Bristol is in the middle of a housing crisis. It’s a crisis that mainly affects the young and especially those who rent. I have three children who face the difficulties of finding a warm, safe secure place to call home and so I understand and feel strongly about the issues. Green housing policy focuses on giving tenants more rights, controlling rents and licensing landlords, and enabling Bristol City Council to build more council homes.
Letting private developers run national housing policy has led to new housing being designed for profit rather than for our needs. Home ownership is now sadly a dream for many. Meanwhile rented housing has been unregulated leading to high rents and low standards.
Greens have always opposed the sell-off of council homes and we would build more in Bristol. Greens would introduce rent controls and enforce minimum standards for landlords.
Britain’s ten million renters spend half their pay on rent, more than the Victorians. Meanwhile landlords are under no obligation to keep their properties up to acceptable standards. Nearly one in three private rented homes falls below the very basic ‘Decent Homes’ standard.
Greens would increase the rights of those who rent their homes, introducing secure tenancies and licensing for landlords. We would introduce rent controls to prevent landlords increasing rents faster than the rate of inflation and give local councils the power to cap or event but rents.
Bristol West is one of the areas worst hit by the Tory policy of removing housing benefit from those aged under 22. It is estimated this will leave 100 young people homeless in our city. Greens would reverse this cruel policy and also abolish the hated bedroom tax.
We would fund these policies partly by trimming the generous tax breaks given to landlords, but the policy can largely pay for itself by reducing the housing benefit bill.
In May I helped launch a new strategy for housing in Bristol, promising the protections enjoyed by tenants in other parts of Europe and in Scotland. I want to see a move away from short-term tenancies, enabling renters to stay in their home as long as they pay their rent and abide by their contract, and a ‘living rent’ where rents are capped to within one third of the take home pay of the average household.