Generation Rent and members of the Renters Reform Coalition handed a letter into 10 Downing Street today to urge Boris Johnson to end unfair evictions for good in 2022 and announce a Renters’ Reform Bill in next Tuesday’s Queens Speech.
The government has been committed to abolishing Section 21 evictions, whereby private landlords can evict tenants without needing a reason, since April 2019, but renters are still waiting for the changes to be passed into law. A letter to the Prime Minister signed by 33 organisations urges him to deliver on this commitment.
Section 21 can be used by landlords in retaliation to a complaint, which leads to disrepair and tenants being afraid to exercise their rights. Tenants can be protected from eviction in this situation, but rely on councils serving an improvement notice on their landlord.
We estimate that two thirds of private renters who are living in unsafe homes remain exposed to revenge evictions, as a result of council inaction.
We recently made Freedom of Information requests to 115 councils. Of those, 83 councils recorded the number of homes found to have severe “Category 1” hazards and the number of improvement notices they served. Despite 4,852 unsafe homes being identified, these councils served just 1,578 improvement notices – just one in three tenants (33%) was protected from a revenge eviction.
The government promised a Renters Reform Bill in the 2019 Queens Speech, then in May 2021 promised a White Paper to set out reforms. It restated its commitment to Section 21 abolition in the Levelling Up White Paper, as part of its mission to halve the number of non-decent homes by 2030 and increase the number of first-time buyers.
The Renters Reform Coalition delivered the letter so that this commitment is at the top of the Prime Minister’s in-tray after the polls close.
With the rising cost of living, additional pressure is being placed on renters of all ages and backgrounds. Rapidly rising rents are squeezing household budgets and pushing ordinary people further from the dream of homeownership. Until Section 21 is repealed, renting families live in fear of an unplanned house move adding further financial strain to their situation.
Private landlords are getting away with renting out poor quality homes that can make people ill because it is easy to evict a tenant who complains. Even when it’s serious enough for the council to get involved, most tenants still don’t get the protection they need.
Getting rid of Section 21 evictions entirely, and requiring landlords to provide legitimate grounds for eviction, will give tenants more confidence to demand improvements. Unless the Queens Speech contains measures to reform the rental market the government will fail in its mission to level up housing. Renters can’t wait any longer.
You can read the coalition's letter to Boris Johnson by clicking the link here.