UNISON hosts housing roundtables with Generation Rent

The roundtables in mid-April will be open to all union members who privately rent, and participants’ time will be reimbursed with gift vouchers

UNISON is working with campaign group Generation Rent to improve conditions in the private rented sector in England.

As the Renters (Reform) Bill moves through Parliament, UNISON wants to ensure this legislation provides a lasting solution to our broken private rented system.

UNISON assistant policy officer Sylvia Jones said: “UNISON and Generation Rent share a vision that private renters deserve the right to a decent, secure and affordable home.

“Currently, private renters are at the sharp end of the housing crisis, with a higher proportion of their income going on housing costs, but often living in poorly maintained homes.

“With so many working people struggling to pay the rent, now is the time for the voices of renters to be heard and for politicians to wake up and introduce fairness in renting.”

UNISON member Ann McKelvey has worked in education for around 24 years and currently works as an employability skills and pastoral tutor at a school in Leeds. She cannot afford her rent: “I’ve maxed out my credit cards and I owe money to my friends and family. I haven’t paid my gas, electric or council tax in a year.

“I care about young people’s education. It’s always been a big thing for me to see kids thrive, but this work doesn’t pay. It makes me feel worthless. I’m doing my best but feel so undervalued, it’s like I’m being punished for working in a school.”

Ms McKelvey said she’s doing her best to make ends meet, but the problem can only be solved by an overhaul to the housing system.

“Landlords don’t want to keep up their properties, and they always find a way to pass the costs onto us. If I was in a council property, I’d be paying £300 less in rent than I am now. But there are no council properties. We need more council homes.”

UNISON and Generation Rent are hosting research roundtables in April to gain more insight into the issues our members face, raise this with politicians and fight for improved rights, protections and affordable housing for private renters.

The roundtables, which are open to all union members who privately rent, will take place in mid-April and participants’ time will be reimbursed with gift vouchers.