Home Business 'Longer than Brexit': Renters criticise five-year wait for ban on no-fault evictions

'Longer than Brexit': Renters criticise five-year wait for ban on no-fault evictions

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Campaigners have criticised the government on the fifth anniversary of a pledge to ban no-fault evictions as part of the Renters Reform Bill, which housing charities say has fuelled a rise in homelessness.
Political reporter
Monday 15 April 2024 12:05, UK
The government has been accused of „betraying renters” on the fifth anniversary of a „failed” promise to ban no-fault evictions – as figures suggest that over 80,000 households have been put at risk of homelessness since then.
Former Conservative prime minister Theresa May made the pledge to scrap Section 21 (S21) notices on 15 April 2019 and it was also in her successor Boris Johnson’s manifesto.
But last month, the government announced an indefinite delay to the plan to ban them, pending court reforms.
A Section 21 order allows landlords to evict tenants with just two months’ notice, without providing a reason for doing so.
Housing campaigners say they are a major contributing factor to rising homelessness.
Analysis of government data by the Renters’ Reform Coalition (RRC) has found that since the promise to ban S21s was made, at least 84,460 private renting households have claimed homeless prevention support after being issued with the notice.
Campaigners believe the true number of „no-fault” evictions served will be much higher, as the data only captures those who claimed council support.
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Tom Darling, campaign manager at the RRC, said: „It is absurd that the government has now officially taken five years to deliver these basic reforms – that’s longer than Brexit took.”
He said S21s „have led to real human suffering and damage” and there could be „millions of other renters who have been evicted but haven’t ended up calling their local authority”.
It was ‘revenge eviction’
Tom Cliffe, 34 was issued with a Section 21 last July after complaining for 18 months about disrepair to his property in Ealing, west London, where he was paying £1,000 a month in rent and bills.
He believes it was a „revenge eviction” as his four other housemates were not served the notice – and he was not given a reason as to why he received one.
Tom, who works in the film industry, spent months and „upwards of £2,000” trying to fight the eviction, but has given up as „everything was weighted in the landlord’s favour”.
„It’s been a huge, huge turmoil,” he told Sky News.
„I have made a home here for six years. I have taken so much care to treat the property well, I have always paid my rent on time.
„To be turfed out by your landlord on a whim when you’re in your 30s and it’s so hard to buy, it’s really upsetting.”
Tom now faces paying up to 50% more in rent in the new property he is due to move into – amid a renting crisis that has seen average rents soar by 9%.
„It all just feels a bit corrupt. The fact that so many MPs are landlords, it seems fairly obvious that this is influencing the [S21] delays,” Tom said.
Gove ‘sold renters down the river’
Housing Secretary Michael Gove pledged to ban S21s through the long-delayed Renters Reform Bill, which was introduced to parliament in May and seen as a „once-in-a-generation” shakeup of renters’ rights.
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But last month he was accused of „selling renters down the river” and conceding to the landlord lobby after it was announced that the power to issue them would remain in place until an assessment had been made to see if courts could handle the change.
Some MPs had warned getting rid of no-fault evictions will increase pressure on the courts, as landlords will need to go through a legal process to regain possession of their properties when they have legitimate grounds to do so.
Other changes to the bill included an amendment to prevent tenants ending contracts in a tenancy’s first six months. Originally the bill proposed allowing renters to end a tenancy with two months’ notice at any point.
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Campaigners have warned this will trap renters in unsafe and falsely advertised tenancies, benefiting „rogue landlords” – as well as risking harm to victims of domestic violence.
The RRC wants to see the bill strengthened to include an increase in eviction notice periods from two to four months, to give renters enough time to find a suitable place to live.
They also want a protected period of at least two years during which renters cannot be evicted under the new no-fault grounds and a limit on rent increases within a tenancy, to stop landlords using rent hikes as a de-facto no-fault eviction.
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‘Utter betrayal’
Labour accused the government of an „utter betrayal of renters across Britain”.
Shadow housing secretary and deputy leader Angela Rayner said: „Hundreds of thousands of people have been put at risk of homelessness since that hollow promise five years ago. There are kids now in school that weren’t even born when the Tories first promised this.
„Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives always choose party before country, it is in their DNA. Only Labour will immediately ban no-fault evictions, no ifs no buts.”
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A Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities spokesperson said: „We are committed to delivering our landmark Renters (Reform) Bill that will provide a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords.
„The bill will abolish section 21 evictions – giving people more security in their homes and empowering them to challenge poor practices.”
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