Landlords make hundreds of families homeless each week and it’s completely legal

Homeless people's tents under a bridge
Support us and go ad-free

Landlords are evicting hundreds of families every week without giving a reason. And it’s completely legal. New figures from campaign group Generation Rent show that 11,247 households were made homeless in 2017 through so-called ‘no-fault’ eviction. That’s 216 households every week.

Most tenants are on assured shorthold tenancies of six or twelve months. Once this period is up, Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to evict them with just two months’ notice. Landlords can evict tenants without giving any reason. According to Generation Rent, “evictions are the number 1 cause of homelessness” in England. 80% of evictions are no-fault.

‘Heartbroken’

Recently, Kent landlord Fergus Wilson used Section 21 to evict four women with young children. He claimed he was forced to take the “heartbreaking” action because of council rules requiring boilers to be fixed immediately in homes with young children.

And in February 2018, BBC Panoramas Evicted For No Reason documentary featured several cases of people who had been evicted under Section 21. One of them, Laura, was evicted with her five children. The local council rehoused the family in bed and breakfast accommodation. Laura said there were “blood, urine stains everywhere”:

‘Revenge’ evictions

In 2015, the law changed to make ‘revenge evictions‘ (also known as ‘retaliatory evictions’) illegal. These are where landlords evict tenants who complain about poor conditions. However, the protection only covers tenants who have complained both to their landlord and to the council. It does not apply if the council has not then told the landlord to make improvements. Generation Rent says that the protection is a “postcode lottery”.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing told the Observer:

We have introduced new measures to stop so-called retaliatory evictions, but we know we need to do more and we are consulting on three-year minimum tenancies.

But Dan Wilson Craw of Generation Rent said:

The ability of landlords to evict tenants without grounds allows them to cash in their assets and leave society to pick up the tab in the form of expensive temporary accommodation and misery for the people affected…

Councils have new responsibilities to prevent homelessness, and the government has just launched a strategy to end rough sleeping, but they have no chance of success if landlords can continue to kick out tenants with impunity.

Call for indefinite tenancies

In 2017, the law changed in Scotland to end fixed-term rentals and outlaw ‘no-fault’ evictions. However, landlords can still evict if they, for example, want to live in or sell the property. Generation Rent says changes needs to go further, including “a payout to tenants if they are forced to move”. Labour, the Green Party, and the London Assembly all support the campaign to scrap section 21.

The Resolution Foundation says that a third of millennials will never own their own home. So, at least scrapping Section 21 would give them a little more protection from rogue landlords.

Get Involved!

– Sign the petition to abolish section 21.

Complete the government’s consultation on longer tenancies. The consultation ends on 26 August.

– If you belong to a political party or union, ask your local branch to adopt a motion to abolish section 21.

Featured image via YouTube screenshot

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed