The private tenants’ lobbying group, Generation Rent are in trouble. Their funding was unexpectedly withdrawn which means they are now desperately trying to raise £60,000 by the end of August so they can keep fighting the good fight. Their hope is that this can be crowdfunded. The last time I looked they’d raised £10294 of their required total.
Why do they deserve our support and money at this stage? After all, some of us renters are paying up to 75% of our incomes just to keep a roof over our heads so there’s little spare cash. Well, here are my reasons based on my experience of working with them and following their campaigns.
I know they work hard to raise the issues of concern to the UK’s 11 million private renters. The fact that it’s really hard to be forking out that 75% of your salary on rent, the small but effective team at Generation Rent know that and work tirelessly to ensure everyone else knows it. Keeping the housing crisis as it relates to private renters on the agenda takes time, energy, skill and a commitment to the cause. Maybe my experience of them could help clarify the significant role they play in our lives in the PRS.
Though I’ve been a private renter forever it seems, it was only just over a year ago that I started to find out about groups and individuals working to improve the situation for me in my tenure. This was as a result of my having had a particularly traumatic end to a tenancy which forced a whole host of changes upon my young family. I wrote my first blogpost on the topic and Generation Rent appeared on my radar and engaged with me within days. They recognised in me a strong case study which might educate those with little understanding of the difficulties inherent in private renting and resonate with those who knew them only too well and so they worked constantly to find opportunities for my experience to get into the media. It was at the time of Labour’s proposals to make significant changes to length of tenancies and security so Generation Rent made sure that alongside the politics, there was a real person with a real story to hammer home the message. That’s a very important part of their work I would imagine and they did it very well.
On top of the case study management and media engagement, Generation Rent are there lobbying to improve our lot in the PRS. Any news story on the difficulties of the younger generation getting on the housing ladder or rogue landlords or rental prices will inevitably feature a quote from Generation Rent. Undoubtedly, their work had a great part to play in the Housing Crisis being such a focus in the election run-up. Undoubtedly, their research has influenced policy change in terms of Section 21 evictions and the creation of a register of landlords. In a very short time, they have become a voice for us and an effective one at that. Media people find them easy to deal with because the team work hard to be available pretty much all the time and flexible with it and without Generation Rent, my feeling is we would have a much less obvious presence media-wise – there would be a bit of a void. And a void is the last thing we need at the moment.
So we need Generation Rent. In the process of writing this though, I wonder if we private renters could be a bigger part of the campaign group. Is there the possibility of Generation Rent becoming more of a union with private renters becoming fully-fledged members in return for advice and representation and a chance to determine and influence campaigns? I’d pay monthly if I felt it helped make my living situation less precarious and brought my voice together with thousands of others in the same situation. Maybe others would too. Just a thought.
But right now, I really think that we should do what we can to avoid losing this extremely professional, committed and effective group. You know as well as I do that we need them more than ever.