Growing calls for renter reform in Bristol amid 'untenable' situation

  • Watch Max Walsh's report.

There are growing calls for people who rent homes in Bristol to be given more rights.

Campaigners are warning high rental prices, drastic increases in bills and a rise in no fault evictions are driving people out of the city.

A recent survey found the city is the most expensive place to live in the UK outside London.

Tenant Thai Churchley, 33, told ITV News she is having to move out after her landlord raised her rent by by 66 per cent.

Ms Churchley said: "I read the letter and just cried. I called my mum and said I will probably have to back. I fought all my life to where I want to be in Bristol - it just felt like that dream and life was over."

Ms Churchley's landlord insists the rent increase was in line with the market value after several years of a 'very good' deal. A discount was also provided during the pandemic.

Housing union Acorn, which campaigns on housing issues across the UK, has said Ms Churchley's experience in Bristol is becoming increasingly common.

Sam Kidel, a co-ordinater for the union, said: "We're seeing more and more reports of rents going up by 60% or 70% in one go and that's leaving people to face eviction and homelessness. It's a problem that's been getting worse in recent months."

What is the solution to Bristol's renting crisis?

Councillor Tom Renhard, Bristol City Council's cabinet member for housing, is calling for more powers to be devolved to allow local authorities to intervene on spiralling costs and set rent caps.

Mr Renhard branded the current situation as 'untenable' and believes we can learn from similar schemes in Europe.

Mr Renhard said: "We've had the Living Rent Commission which has brought together renters, landlords and other organisations to look at the issue of affordability in the private rented sector in the city.

"What we're hoping is that it will provide a framework around intervening - so undertaking measures to stabilise or regulate rents. It's not something that we can do at the moment but we are lobbying the government for those powers.

"But also we are looking at what's the impact of that on the market. So we are looking for evidence across Europe to see what we can learn."

The government is due to publish its Renters' Reform Bill this month, which they say will ban no-fault evictions and create a 'better deal' for renters across the UK.

Landlords believe there are other issues which must be addressed.

Ben Beadle from the National Residential Landlords Association said excessive taxing on landlords is not helping as these costs are passed down to tenants. But more crucially there needs to be a greater supply of property.

Mr Beadle said: "It's back to supply and demand. This is not a complicated subject.

"We are not about exploiting people we are about charging a fair rent and looking after our tenants and making sure they have a great experience in the private rented sector. If you have fewer properties you will simply end up paying more for the ones leftover."

The government insists it is delivering a fairer deal for renters.

A spokesperson said: “This is why we will bring forward the Renters Reform Bill very shortly, which will let tenants challenge unreasonable rate rises and ban ‘no fault’ evictions so that all tenants have greater security in their homes.

“Evidence shows rent controls in the private sector do not work as they lead to declining standards, a lack of investment and may encourage illegal subletting.”