Renters will still face unfair evictions under 'inadequate' new bill, say campaigners

3 weeks ago 25

To let signsImage source, Getty Images

By Harry Farley

Political correspondent

Campaigners have warned the government's plans to ban no-fault evictions in England are "inadequate".

A group of charities have written to Housing Secretary Michael Gove urging him to strengthen legislation making its way through Parliament.

Without changes, they said renters would continue to be unfairly threatened with losing their homes.

The government said the bill would deliver "a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords".

However, some Conservative MPs fear the Renters (Reform) Bill goes too far and will see landlords sell up, reducing the number of rental properties.

Under the bill landlords would only be able to evict tenants in England under certain circumstances, including when they wish to sell the property or when they or a close family member want to move in.

'I wouldn't wish this on anyone'

Natalie Allwood, 47, is trying to settle into yet another new flat.

It is her thirteenth home in the last 20 years.

In the last 18 months alone, she received two 'Section 21' - or no-fault eviction - notices. The most recent was immediately after she wrote to the landlord about the insulation in her flat.

"I've never defaulted on my rent," she told the BBC News. "I've been a good tenant."

The cost of multiple removals, and rising rents, mean she now has to live more than an hour outside her work and friends in Brighton.

"I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone," she said.

"It's supposed to be 21st Century and we're living in Dark Ages as far as I'm concerned. It's just beyond ridiculous that people are struggling for place to live."

In a letter shared exclusively with BBC News, the Renter's Reform Coalition warned Mr Gove he was "set to miss the opportunity to fix the crisis in private renting" and urged him "to face down vested interests".

The group of charities and organisations representing private renters called for:

  • Tenants to be given four-month notice periods when being evicted, not the current plan of two months
  • Tenants to be protected from eviction for two years at the start of a tenancy, rather than six months at present
  • The evidential threshold for landlords when they are trying to evict tenants to be raised

"Without these changes, the tenant's experience post-reform will too often resemble the current situation: renters will continue to be subject to the threat of unfair evictions; they will continue to be subject to frequent, expensive moves; and they will continue to feel unable to challenge their landlords to demand that basic standards be met," the letter said.

The Conservatives promised to ban no-fault evictions in their 2019 general election manifesto.

MPs began debating the proposed legislation to bring in the ban in October but it has not yet completed its passage through the House of Commons.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said the government was "being far too weak" in the face of opposition from its own MPs.

"I definitely think the delay is down to a group of backbenchers on the Tory benches who are landlords who don't want to see this bill go through," she told BBC News.

The government insisted the bill would return to the Commons soon.

Some Conservative MPs have spoken publicly against the bill and a number have proposed changes looking to bolster protections for landlords.

The National Residential Landlords Association is calling for improvements to the court system to enable landlords to regain possession of their properties more quickly when they have legitimate grounds to do so.

Ben Beadle, the organisation's chief executive, said: "Tenants across the country are facing a rental housing supply crisis. It is vital therefore that plans to reform the rental market secure the confidence of responsible landlords as well as renters."

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: "Our landmark Renters (Reform) Bill will deliver a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords.

'It will abolish section 21 evictions - giving people more security in their homes and empowering them to challenge poor practices."

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