The Law Centres Network (LCN) has teamed up with other charities and renters’ groups to form the Renters’ Reform Coalition to urge the government to deliver a fairer private renting system.
During the last year alone nearly 700,000 renters in England have lost their homes after being served with a ‘no-fault’ (Section 21) eviction notice. This is despite a two-year-old government promise to scrap this controversial ground for eviction.
Section 21 evictions allow landlords to evict private tenants without having to give a reason and a valid Section 21 notice cannot be overturned in court. This leaves them open to abuse by enabling ‘revenge evictions’ if, for example, a tenant does not agree to a rent increase or requests repairs to the property.
The Renters’ Reform Bill, which pledged to abolish this type of eviction, was announced in December 2019 in the Queen’s speech. Yet progress on this Bill has stalled and in November 2020 the government stated that it would delay implementing the Bill until “responding to the urgencies of the pandemic has passed.”
However, renters are one of the groups that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Although some evictions have been delayed throughout the past year, renters still face much uncertainty about the future of their homes once these cases are allowed to move forward. In a recent survey for campaign group Generation Rent, nearly a third (32%) said they were concerned about the possibility of their landlord asking them to move out this year.
Gemma Marshall, her partner and their two young children have faced two no-fault evictions in the past two years. She said:
“Having to break the news to the children when they are starting to feel it is home is really hard… It has an impact on your mental health and wellbeing. I have spent countless hours worrying.”
The Renters’ Reform Coalition is supporting renters in their calls for change by urging the government to live up to its promise and bring forward a redesigned system that ensures that all private renters have a stable and affordable home.
Sue James, Chair of the Renters’ Reform Coalition and a trustee of LCN, said:
“Private renters face high rents, poor living conditions and perpetual instability. This causes needless disruption to people’s lives: their finances, work, health and their children’s education. Renters need certainty to enable them to put down roots in communities and create real homes in rented properties.”