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Petition to reform the 1988 housing act

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641 views 6 replies latest reply: 22 March 2017

At long last I have got around to creating a petition on the UK.GOV website to reform the outdated 1988 housing act. When you read this act through you realize why private renting has become what it is today. Take a look anyway…

Click this link to sign the petition:

My petition:

The 1988 Housing Act is outdated to meet 21st century housing needs

The housing act of 1988 is completely outdated and does not reflect the needs of private renters in 2017. Renters are subject to AST no security, high rents and frequent rent increases.The1988 housing act was created to attract private landlords by changing tenants rights. It now needs reforming.

Number of UK landlords rise to 1.75 million in 2016 and set to rise further. Private landlords target smaller properties and then rent them out at the highest possible rent, trapping people. This act created to benefit private landlords by allowing them to provide AST instead of a secure AT. With upto 70% of salary’s going on rent that provide NO security, where people have to change homes frequently should be urgently looked into to ensure tenants have longer term security and stability. 

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I think removing AST entirely would produce a negative effect as there are a lot of people, mainly young professionals who have come to like the flexibility of living under an AST.

I do agree that a more secure form of AST, like 3-to-5 year agreements, should be introduced to accommodate renters looking for longer term lets. 

I would have liked to see some propositions and a spark of a discussion around what do we (tenants) what to see done by the government and how it fits in the economic model of the UK. Because renting is an industry and we need to realistically propose changes that are good for business, not only good for tenants.  


Thank you for posting a comment. However, the petition is not about removing AST it’s more to do with reforming the entire 1988 housing act that was the instigator of the AST and many terms within it to balance on the side of the landlord – this is not me saying it, this is actually stated by many landlord to one: – JUST two links which cover it.

The fact is, and I know you may disagree, as I’m sure private landlords would. We have such a vast housing shortage now, and more importantly lack of “affordable” housing with many people under the average salary just on it, private renting like owning your own home is becoming increasingly difficult to keep a “reasonable” long term secure roof over one’s head. One, that if a tenant challenges anything as soo as their 6 or 12 month rental comes to end the landlord can either put the rent up or serve a notice 21 to re-gain their property. This is NO way to live, these are NOT homes, they are pension funds and assets to the small private landlord who without the 1988 housing act being changed to make it more balanced is going to see more and more people without a HOME.

Houses, sadly are seen as assets, bank balances and this is part of the reason we have the ever increasing house price growth that has now reached an all time high of 7.6 times the average salary – and renting can be more than a mortgage, even for 1, 2 bedroom property. 

The private sector needs controlling as it once was – basically if one landlord raises his rent, then others follow suit, and so it goes on and one until we have such rents that become the norm, but not for those trying to put down roots, whether it be renting or buying. I smiled at you talking about 1-5 years as being secure. No one is suggesting the 6-12 month AST should vanish, as there will people who choose this as a stepping stone, but with housing market as it is more and more people will need to rent as they can’t buy. Therefore there must be “long term tenure’s” for those, no one can build a safe, secure life with the thought of changing properties every so often because there are no real long term tenures. 

Taken from Shelter, re the AST if a tenant complains: 


It is in theory possible for certain types of assured shorthold tenants to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) in England, or a Rent Assessment Committee in Wales, like assured tenants can, but assured shorthold tenants have very little protection from eviction, and antagonising your landlord could put you at risk of losing your home.


Your landlord has these duties by law, no matter what is written in the tenancy agreement. However, if you ask your landlord to do these repairs they may attempt to regain possession of the property or not renew the agreement when it expires. Before attempting to use this general right to repairs you should consult an experienced adviser.

The act is not suitable for dealing with long term secure renting, the UK’s housing needs have changed dramatically since 1988. 


Landlords have too much power to legally evict their tenants and they use it at any time as leverage to push them back on repairs, rent increases, change in terms and so on. I cannot agree more with you on this one. We get questions every week about how to mitigate when the landlord is threathening to not continue after the fixed term. 

This wasn’t going to be an issue if there were available housing stock at all price ranges to accommodate people easily moving in and out of a property. However, that is not true and to make it worse, moving has become ever so expensive.

Renting itself has become super expensive, in London especially, as rents soar to the sky, letting fees raging uncontrolably and houses having poor energy efficiency resulting in huge utility bills. 

These are all problems that we pray get addressed with more than just an Autumn Statement.

However, while all of the above may be subject to legislation, I don’t believe that secure long term tenure is going to come from John Smith the private landlord that withdrew his pension fund to purchase the property you live in. 

Small time landlords very much rely on the flexibility that they can easily recoup their property using s21 in the even that a bad tenant comes in and starts ruining their *investment*. If the government threathens the security or profitability of this investment, what do you think is going to happen ?

When the government tells John that he can’t have possession of the property for the next 10 years, the chances that John decides the entire tirade is crap and sells up increase. 

When we have private landlords selling up, the housing stock diminishes further. So instead of having expensive insecure housing, we don’t have housing at all. 

I think the ball has been in the government’s court for decades now, but developing new housing is going slow and not at all meets the demant and often the promises of affordability don’t get reflected in the final result.


Great response, thank you, however, we differ in opinions on the subject of curbing BTL landlords, as you state: ” When we have private landlords selling up, the housing stock diminishes further. So instead of having expensive insecure housing, we don’t have housing at all. “
First off, the real price increase in property and renting has only entered the housing market over the last 20 years, which incidently coincides with the BTL mortgage in 1996 when those buy to let landlords received mortgage incentives that were not available to people getting on the housing ladder. In addition to this because of the 1988 housing act, there was no rent controls, tenures were no longer secure, and so we started to have less secure and more expensive housing for those in need of either a stepping stone or long term renting. No one is suggesting a landlord should not be able to evict a tenant, but for good tenants, not one’s who trash their property, cause damage or have months of rent arrears, but for the tenants who look after their property as though it’s their own and always pay on time – there should be a 12 month period before a landlord can evict, as currently as soon as a fixed term ends, if perhaps repairs haven’t been dealt with that ahve been requested, or the landlord decides to increase the rent, then the tenant is vulnerable, and this is where it must be balanced out. 
In the main private landlords target the smaller properties for renting, 1-2 bedrooms, most only have one or two properties – those that have more of a portfolio enter the realms more of a commercial landlord, merely by size of their portfolio and he/she will probably have a mix of properties. This hype about what do you think will happen to the housing market/stock if BTL landlords lose the ability to evict or financial incentives, well, we might have a better and fairer system, where those trying to get on the housing ladder or needing to rent had a better deal. If those same mortgage incentives of the last 20 years were given to people trying to get on the housing ladder, in the long run would improve social housing. We have to have properties of the smaller kind available to people getting on the housing ladder – not bought up by landlords to make money. If the government had control on private renting, where people had to prove what they were earning, where rent would be a percentage of what they’re earning, as currently all the housing benefits to keep people in private rented properties and landlords receiving incentives to be landlords – the housing market is completely skewed! And for all the complaints I hear from BTL landlords about how tough it is – Well, why do they become a private landlord, because overall it’s highly profitable for them. Private landlords are increasing, and without some kind of capping rents, the private sector is governing, setting the rents whilst inflating the sector where rents swallow upto 70% of someone’s salary.
A glut of ex-buy to let houses coming on to the market, house prices would lower across the housing spectrum – Councils, associations could possibly buy them and make them available at an affordable rate, which would also reduce housing benefit, or people would have more choice of smaller properties. A system that gives incentives to people make money out of “homes” for people in this dreadful housing crisis is criminal. 
The entire system needs reforming from ground zero to meet the needs of housing in 2017 not 1988  with tenures and terms so outdated that it’s a sticking plaster for tenants, who, if they complain about anything, it’s out the back jack, what kind of archaic system is that.



This is the first real discussion we’ve had on the forum for more than a year. Thank Suzanne for being such an active member.

I do like this bit: “there should be a 12 month period before a landlord can evict, as currently as soon as a fixed term ends, if perhaps repairs haven’t been dealt with that ahve been requested, or the landlord decides to increase the rent, then the tenant is vulnerable, and this is where it must be balanced out.” 

This is actually a great idea and sounds like it’s actually possible to achieve. 

Of course, landlords wouldn’t be too happy, but they should realise at somepoint that if they’re going to be landlords, they must abdicate most of their rights related to occupying the property. 

I’m not against landlord profiting from their properties. It’s why they became landlords. However, when their profit requires for basic human rights to be ignored and trumped and for people to live in dangerous and hazardous conditions, under constant stress and anxiety, CLEARLY SOMETHING IS WRONG. 

And there are many things wrong, but I’ve not seen yet one politician who will take this enormous task of housing reform. 



Good morning Audrey,
Delighted you think I’m contributing in a positive way – even if you don’t agree with all my views, debate is always healthy and the only way forward to begin to change things for the better.
I was interested in your reply/comment, that you think a 12 month settling period between a landlord being able to serve notice 21 to evict a tenant could be viable – however, I feel we do need to get away from the idea that if a landlord provides a safe non hazardous place then his/her property is FIT to live in as a home – this is why we have so many properties that are rented out in an appalling state of decoration. IF furnished, most are furnished to a basic, survival level. Few landlords would actually live in those properties themselves. If landlords are to profit, by how much is questionable, but that aside, a property must be seen as a HOME not some shell to keep people warm and dry – Renting will increase in the years to come as a need, not justa stepping stone, therefore homes are what people need. 

If a property is let unfurnished then the tenants must be allowed to treat the property as a home, especially if long term tenants, to have to ask if one can put a picture on the wall when you may be paying £800-£1000+ per month is not acceptable – a Landlord should accept this as being part of a landlord. The terms for most lettings are like having the gestapo as your landlord. in MOST situations if a tenant feels they a vested interest they are more likely to care for the property – which is ONE of the problems with renting, landlords have prevented this over the years – so tenants lose interest.
Carpets, flooring, decoration must be kept to a certain standard – again when I’m looking through rented property for research this is NOT kept to a standard one would expect. Carpets/re-decoration should be done every 5 years – max 7 as basically as te law stands unless carpet is absolutley threadbare or hazardous (health and safety) a landlord can leave it – he/she must keep the property to a certain standard, if they wouldn’t want to live in it themselves then don’t expect others too!
Gardens – huge contention through many threads/forums I see. If a tenant is expected to maintain a garden, then the landlord being his property, where he will always “benefit” most in the long term must either make the garden as “low” maintenance as possible for the tenant so unkeep is NOT like maintaining a field of crops. Garden equipment can be expensive, especially if a tenancy is short, say 6-12 months where the tenant may not be moving to a property with a garden, may not want a garden, but is forced to rent a property that has one due to availability etc. Landlords should provide all gardening equipment at the property, this makes it easier for the tenant and better for the landlord. Or the landlord could provide a gardener where say 25%-50% could be incorporated into the rent before putting on the market, that way tenants I believe would absorb it and be happy the garden was being taken care of. 

There is a lot about this in the OFT, yes I know they ceased in 2014, but much of the content and what is considered unfair terms for a tenant are now in a another service based consummers act. If tenants ONLY speak up when they have a problem, or in most cases just accept the private sector as it is and sit back a don’t present a voice to change things, then renting will remain as it is, but I’m not one of those. I want to see change and for that I’m willing to speak up and hopefully present some ideas that may one day be considered. Did you sign my petition Audrey?
Have a good day Audrey..

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