Just one in four tenants safe from revenge evictions, says Generation Rent

Andrew Kersley

Generation Rent has warned that just one in four private renters are currently protected from a revenge eviction if their home is found to be unsafe and called on the government to abolish ‘no-fault’ evictions.

The group has today revealed data secured through freedom of information requests, which shows that 11,801 severe hazards in homes were registered across 81 English councils in 2018-19 but only 2,898 improvement notices were issued.

The notices, issued in just 24.6% of all cases analysed by the housing campaign, give tenants six months of protection from a section 21 eviction – under which a landlord does not need to cite a reason for evicting a tenant from their property.

Generation Rent has argued that the 75% of residents in unsafe homes who have not been given this level of protection are at risk of a retaliatory eviction from their landlord now that the Covid-19 emergency ban on evictions has been lifted.

Commenting on the new findings, director of the organisation Alicia Kennedy said: “With courts reopening there is nothing to stop landlords from evicting tenants who have done nothing wrong.

“The government knows that section 21 is a leading cause of homelessness among those who rent from a private landlord yet, despite being promised in the Queen’s speech, we still have no idea when they will publish the bill to abolish it.”

The group highlighted that today marks one year since the public consultation on abolishing the piece of legislation closed. Both Boris Johnson and predecessor Theresa May pledged to end no-fault evictions but failed to act on that promise.

Kennedy added: “Boris Johnson cannot let another year go by with tenants being bullied into putting up with leaks and mould, or another 30,000 families being made homeless at their landlord’s whim.

“The answer to the inadequacy of the rental market is not 95% mortgages, but a whole package of measures that make it possible for anyone to make their long-term home in it.”

The new data also exposed a disparity between different councils. Local authorities in Croydon, East Yorkshire, Lewisham and Liverpool all issued improvement notices on about 90% of hazards that they discovered.

But Brighton & Hove, Kingston upon Thames, Southend on Sea and Wigan were among six councils that have failed to issue a single improvement notice to landlords, leaving tenants unprotected from retaliatory evictions.

In a previous poll, carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, of tenants evicted under section 21 notices revenge was cited as the third most frequent reason, behind the property being repurposed and landlords raising the level of rent.

The Conservative government first promised to abolish no-fault evictions in April 2019. Generation Rent has warned that there will now be an increase in the usage of the notices since the ban on evictions has come to an end.

The government introduced legislation in March that stopped landlords from taking court proceedings to evict people during the pandemic. But the suspension lifted on September 21st despite charities and Labour calling for its extension.

Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire at the time highlighted that, instead of bringing forward protections for renters, the government prioritised time in parliament for Brexit legislation including the controversial internal market bill.

322,000 people have fallen into rent arrears since the pandemic started, according to housing charity Shelter, while councils have said that as many as half a million private renters are at risk of homelessness now the ban has been lifted.

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