Manchester Renters Forum giving a voice to victims of growing housing crisis

Manchester Renters Forum, 01/03/18, at The Mechanics Institute

by Siobhan Donnachie (@Siobhan_e_d)

On March 1st, the Mayor and key council officials came together with renters in Manchester to discuss and reflect on their experiences of renting in the city and heard their collective needs for safe, secure and affordable housing, both now and into the future.

Across Greater Manchester, 400,000 people rely on private renting as their only housing option. Many are faced with a multitude of issues, whilst evictions from private rented housing remains the biggest cause of homelessness. For renters across Manchester, change and creative action is desperately needed to alleviate the detrimental impact the private rented sector can have upon their lives.

Led by renters for renters, the Forum gave those struggling to access and those living in private rented housing the opportunity to speak directly to policy makers. Support services across the city who provide frontline services to individuals and families affected by the housing crisis had stalls at the event to promote the service.

After opening remarks from Greater Manchester Housing Action, Tenants Union UK and the Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, attendees discussed five topics including: lack of rights, poor conditions, lack of security and instability, affordability, barriers and lack of representation. During these discussions renters came together to highlight common issues, propose future policies and solutions. All the contributions from attendees will be documented into a final report, which will be presented to Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority by Greater Manchester Housing Action and Tenants Union UK. The report will ensure the voices of renters will be amplified, enabling them to participate in policy change and improve housing in the city.

At the Forum, Andy Burnham agreed to move forward in enacting change by working with organisers, and take into consideration the realistic solutions proposed. There will be another Forum in around six months’ time to discuss actions taken and to explore more themes around private renting issues.

However, improving conditions, affordability and security of tenure for renters across the region is simply not enough. It is important that initiatives like the Renters Forum also continue to allow renters and residents of Manchester to make the case for investment in alternatives to the private rented sector, including more social housing, cooperatives and community housing.

20 March 2018