The law is failing to protect private renters from unfair evictions

Section 21 eviction notice from animated video by Shelter
Jasmine Norden

Only one in four renters are protected by their council from eviction “if their home is found to be unsafe”, leaving renters vulnerable now courts have reopened.

Freedom of Information data collected by Generation Rent revealed that only 24.6% of cases saw councils issue improvement notices to landlords after finding severe hazards.

Improvement notices protect tenants from eviction for six months. If not served, landlords can evict tenants without a reason.

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said:

With courts reopening there is nothing to stop landlords from evicting tenants who have done nothing wrong.

The government knows that Section 21 is a leading cause of homelessness among those who rent from a private landlord yet, despite being promised in the Queen’s Speech, we still have no idea when they will publish the Bill to abolish it.

Boris Johnson cannot let another year go by with tenants being bullied into putting up with leaks and mould, or another 30,000 families being made homeless at their landlord’s whim. The answer to the inadequacy of the rental market is not 95% mortgages, but a whole package of measures that make it possible for anyone to make their long term home in it.

Enforcement of housing standards

Generation Rent requested information from 102 local councils. Of the 100 that replied, there was a total of 75,099 complaints about private rented home conditions.

Between the 81 councils that collected the data, there were 11,081 severe hazards found. Despite this, only 2,898 improvement notices were issued.

It was found that six councils had not issued a single improvement notice to protect tenants. These councils include: Brighton & Hove, Calderdale, Kingston upon Thames, Southend on Sea, Tameside, and Wigan.

Section 21

Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act allows landlords to evict tenants with a minimum two months’ notice without having to prove any faults. This allows for ‘revenge evictions‘, where landlords evict tenants for complaining about conditions or requesting repairs. However, “in most cases” renters will have six months’ notice until March 2021 due to the impact of coronavirus.

Revenge evictions were made illegal in 2015, but there are accusations that the law is ‘not working‘.

The government announced plans to abolish Section 21 evictions in April 2019. However, the Renters’ Reform Bill that will address this has still not been presented.

The impact on renters

For 2018-19, the private rented sector included 19% of households. 25% of homes in the private rented sector did not meet the Decent Homes Standard.

The termination of private sector tenancies like these is a leading cause for homelessness.

These figures show urgent action is needed to protect renters from being evicted from their homes, especially during the pandemic.

Featured image via YouTube – Shelter

Get involved

  • Generation Rent is campaigning for the end of unfair evictions. Visit their site to tell your government your view on scrapping Section 21.

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us