London Renters occupy DCLG

Private Renters occupy DCLG

Well done to housing campaigners from London Renters who today occupied the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in protest at evictions and insecurity of tenure. The campaigners bedded down in sleeping bags in the department’s lobby to highlight how being evicted by a private landlord has become the leading cause of homelessness.

The DCLG have reportedly held a workshop about ways to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants. But we want secure tenancies for all tenants, and in particular an end to ‘no fault’ evictions, where a landlord can evict a tenant for no reason.

Members of our group have had landlords refuse to renew tenancies, or threaten eviction, after tenants have complained of disrepair.  But there are even greater numbers of people who would rather not complain, and continue to live with damp or poor heating, rather than risk triggering an eviction, and being in the difficult position of trying to find somewhere affordable to rent in London.

Recent research by Shelter found that 1 in 33 renters had been a victim of retaliatory eviction, and a one in eight were so fearful of it that they did not ask for repairs to be done.

According London Renters, it is already easier to evict a tenant in the UK than it is in any other European country.  It is disgraceful that the government are thinking about making it even easier. And a report by Crisis has found that landlords ending private tenancies are now the main cause of homelessness and the number of evictions has been soaring since 2010. Instead of making it easier for landlords to evict tenants, we need secure tenancies to reduce homelessness and allow people to build lives in their communities without fear.

As part of a consultation on property conditions in the private rented sector, there has been a proposal to prevent landlords evicting tenants where they have complained about serious disrepairs. This is something we would support, however, this would still leave tenants at risk of eviction for things like being involved in private tenants groups or questioning a rent increase. There is also no guarantee that this proposal will be implemented.

Tenants also fear evictions for joining or being seen to be involved in private tenants groups or other housing campaigns, questioning rent increases or asking permission to make changes to their home or living arrangements like hanging pictures or keeping a pet. We consider that section 21 should be removed entirely, and private tenants should have the same rights and security as social tenants with secure tenancies.

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April 10, 2014  Tags:   Posted in: NEWS