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End to ‘no-fault’ evictions won’t bring security

Today’s publication of the Renters Reform Bill abolishing section 21 represents a huge step forward for renters forced to live under the threat of ‘no-fault’ eviction for 35 years, but current plans will not bring us security in our homes, say renters in the London Renters Union (LRU). Landlords could circumnavigate the new eviction ban by using large rent hikes and other “backdoor” evictions to force unwanted tenants out.

In the four years since the government promised to end section 21, nearly 53,000 households have been threatened with homelessness from no-fault eviction. Renters are now facing an evictions crisis, off the back of skyrocketing rents. 

Under the new law, tenants will likely only be able to challenge rent rises that go beyond market increases in the area. Over the last year, newly listed rents have risen above inflation across the country, and with 4 in 5 Londoners struggling to afford housing costs, another round of large rent hikes would surely push many out of their homes.

Recent data from Shelter also reveals that tenants who report disrepair are twice as likely to be evicted in retaliation. The government claims it will “empower renters to challenge poor landlords,” but with the threat of unaffordable rent hikes still hanging over renters’ heads, LRU members are concerned that many will feel just as scared to challenge mistreatment as before. 

LRU is calling for caps on in-tenancy rent rises. It is also calling for stronger deterrents such as compensation to protect renters from the fraudulent use of the new grounds for evictions e.g. when landlords wish to sell the property or move a family member in.

Section 21 is a leading cause of homelessness. Recent figures show that the number of households in temporary accommodation is now at a near 20-year high.

LRU campaigned widely for an end to section 21 in 2018, and for an eviction ban during the covid-19 lockdowns. LRU is currently campaigning for a rent freeze

“Bringing an end to the blight of ‘no-fault’ evictions is long overdue. Too many families have been forced into homelessness in the four years since the tories promised to end this cruel legislation. But there is nothing in this bill banning the huge and unfair rent increases our members are facing all of the time. For the many families struggling with housing costs at the moment, a 20% rent hike is simply a ‘no-fault’ eviction under a different name. If the government is serious about bringing renters security in our homes, it must recognise how insecure renters feel speaking out against unsafe housing or planning for the future with the threat of inflation-busting rent increases hanging over our heads.”

Siobhan Donnachie, Spokesperson for the London Renters Union

Image: Guy Smallman

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