- 15 specialist advisers to support those who need it and keep them out of debt
- Campaigning for legal change
- Putting an end to ‘revenge evictions’
To own or to rent? It’s a choice that fewer Brits can make as rising house prices put home ownership out of reach for many. The rental market is steadily growing as a result, with 11 million people renting homes from private landlords in England alone.
And while many of those renters live in a happy, harmonious home, there are others who have to put up with poor conditions such as damp, mould, or worse, faulty wiring. It’s a difficult choice – say nothing and you potentially put your life in danger, or complain to the landlord and risk coming home to an eviction notice through the letterbox.
This is where British Gas and Shelter come in. They joined forces in 2012, brought together by a common goal. “We both instinctively knew that we were two organisations that were about the home; providing security and safety within the home”, says the housing charity’s Chief Executive, Campbell Robb.
“What British Gas brought to the table was an understanding that they didn’t just want to provide us with money, they actually wanted to see improvements in the private rental sector”, he continues.
The partnership’s plan was to support people in poor housing conditions, improving standards in electrical and gas safety, and giving people debt advice or grants, where possible, to clear their debt.
It’s a unique relationship, says Campbell: “What British Gas have done is put their heart and soul into it. Not just raising money, not just helping us to advise people but really supporting us in our campaigns to improve the private rental sector.”
So far, the partnership has had some fantastic wins.
Two law changes
One of the best results of the partnership is a change to the law. From 1 December 2015, landlords in Scotland have to prove the safety of the electrics in their rentals. They also have to fit carbon monoxide alarms. And in England, as of 1 October 2015, private renters starting or renewing assured shorthold tenancies will be protected from eviction if they’ve made a complaint about poor conditions. And from 1 October 2018, it will protect all renters on assured shorthold tenancies, even if they signed their tenancies years before.
What this means is that landlords cannot evict tenants on shorthold notices for complaining about the condition of the property. In short, it helps put an end to “revenge evictions”. Find out more about the law changes here
Specialist advisers ready to help
The British Gas Energy Trust provides training to all Shelter advisers so that they have an understanding of fuel poverty and energy debt. This means that Shelter can refer people to one of 15 specialist Shelter British Gas Energy Trust advisers across the country to help people stay out of debt.
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