9 May 2023
5 min read
The Co-operative Bank and housing and homelessness charity, Shelter, have today announced that they are joining forces, launching a bold new partnership to demand a fairer private rented system.
Together, they are campaigning for the introduction of a robust Renters’ Reform Bill which would put an end to unfair evictions and unsafe housing, securing stronger rights for renters. The long-awaited Bill is expected to be introduced this week.
We are in desperate need of a new private rented system, with over 900,000 of us currently at risk of losing our homes. Beyond this, private renters across the country are struggling in poor quality housing and experiencing problems with some landlord practices, such as the use of Section 21 notices, which are increasingly commonplace in an unregulated rented sector.
It’s been over four years since new renting reforms were proposed that have the potential to fix private renting for good. Yet for private renters, nothing has changed in this time. The partnership will campaign together to demand the delivery of long-overdue reforms that could transform private renting.
To protect renters from housing insecurity and poor conditions, the partnership is calling for the Renters’ Reform Bill to be made into law as a matter of urgency, reflecting Shelter’s solutions for change in the sector which include:
1) The creation of a National Landlord Register, including information on landlords’ compliance with minimum standards
2) Scrapping Section 21 ‘unfair evictions’ which leave thousands homeless each year
3) Ending income discrimination for tenants, and particularly those claiming means-tested benefits.
The Co-operative Bank was founded as part of the co-operative movement in 1872 and has been committed to co-operative values and ethics since then, for over 150 years. They were the first bank in the UK to introduce a customer-led Ethical Policy; something that still makes them unique to this day. Through regular polls, customers inform the Bank of issues they want them to take action on, and the policy is regularly updated to reflect their views. The latest iteration, published in 2022, committed the Bank to ‘campaign to drive meaningful and societal change on issues such as homelessness’, which has inspired the Bank’s partnership with Shelter.
In the spirit of co-operation, The Co-operative Bank will ensure that its colleagues and customers join them throughout this campaign by calling on them to back Shelter’s priorities for the Renters’ Reform Bill by signing their petition.
Both Shelter and The Co-operative Bank will be working to raise public and political awareness of the urgent need for a fairer private rented system through marketing, research and events. The partnership will also raise awareness around the lived experiences of renters within the private rented system. One such experience comes from Simon, who sought help from Shelter for himself and his family last year:
“The clock was ticking for Simon and his young family. They were being evicted from their home and couldn’t find a new one in time.
They had never been late with their rent or had any problems with their landlord. After asking for repairs they received a Section 21 no-fault eviction. They were being forced to leave and panic was really starting to set in.
Despite their best efforts, they weren’t making any progress in their search for a new home. There were too many other families, just like them, competing for the same few affordable homes.
As eviction day loomed, getting increasingly desperate, Simon called the council for support. However, they said they couldn’t help.
With nowhere else to turn, Simon reached out to Shelter. Shelter understood the family’s struggle all too well and gave Simon the expert advice he needed. By working together with Simon, he was able to get his family on the housing register and they are now settled in a secure social home”.
Commenting on the partnership launch, Nick Slape, CEO of The Co-operative Bank, said:
“Our customers tell us that fighting poverty and inequality across the UK is extremely important to them and that’s why campaigning on issues such as homelessness is so meaningful to The Co-operative Bank.
We recognise the issues that some renters have been facing in accessing safe and secure housing within the private rented sector, which at a time of increased pressures around cost of living, is exacerbating the homelessness emergency we are facing.
That’s why we’re standing up for those who do not have a safe and secure home, campaigning with Shelter to demand the introduction of a transformative Renters’ Reform Bill that can deliver lasting change for renters.”
Commenting on the partnership launch, Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said:
“We are so pleased to be launching this new partnership with The Co-operative Bank at this critical time. As organisations we believe in the importance of home and the power of campaigning, and together we will be a force for change.
Too many private renters are trapped in a broken, insecure and unfair system. Every day we hear from people facing awful conditions and the constant threat of eviction if they complain. Renters deserve better, that’s why we need a robust Renter’s’ Reform Bill that protects tenants, makes renting safer, and provides the security so many people desperately need.”
About the research: all data, unless otherwise stated, is from a YouGov survey for Shelter of 2,000 Private Renters in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26 October and 10 November 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults in England (aged 18+). Population figures have been calculated using English Housing Survey data.
For information around The Co-operative Bank’s work with Shelter, please visit our content hub.
To access the petition, demanding better renters’ rights, please visit Shelter’s website.
For information around The Co-operative Bank’s ethical policy, please visit our Values and ethics page.
Head of External Communications & Sustainability
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