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HOUSING activists are launching a national campaign today to stop private landlords being able to evict tenants without having to give a reason.
So-called “no fault” evictions, which allow landlords to put tenants on the street with just two months notice, are the number one cause of homelessness.
Housing charity Shelter revealed last year that eviction from a private tenancy accounted for 78 per cent of the rise in homelessness since 2011, with 18,750 households becoming homeless after an eviction from a privately rented home in 2016 alone.
The proportion of households in England renting privately has doubled since 2004 and the 11 million renters have little protection from eviction once their fixed-term contract ends, unlike in Germany or Scotland, for example, where tenancies are indefinite.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says that bringing an end to “no fault” evictions will “absolutely” be part of the party’s next manifesto, saying the issue is “a moral litmus test for the country. Do we just put up with so many rough sleepers or do we do something about it?”
Activist groups including Generation Rent, the New Economics Foundation and the London Renters Union are now working together to fight unfair evictions, starting with securing abolition of section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
Tonight’s campaign launch event in Bermondsey, south London, will hear from renters made homeless through section 21 evictions and activists from new private renters’ unions.
Generation Rent director Dan Wilson Craw said: “Renters are not just a convenient source of income. They are people who need a home.
“They should be guaranteed the right to a secure home and a stable life, free from the anxiety of being evicted for no justifiable reason.
“With half of people aged 18 to 35, one in four families and growing numbers of pensioners now renting privately, the time has come to abolish section 21 and give tenants more security, peace of mind and confidence to complain.”
He told the Star that the looming threat of potential eviction and homelessness put renters in a “precarious position” which had a knock-on effect on their lives.
“Beyond the immediate impact on people who are evicted, it’s this fact that this could happen to anyone,” he said.
“Renters feel like their home isn’t theirs. They never feel sure whether they are going to be in the same home in a year’s time.
“That really undermines any sort of sense of home. It means it feels like they can’t commit to getting involved in their community or even decorate their home because what’s the point if they don’t know whether their landlord is going kick them out?”
The campaign against unfair evictions is launched as the government prepares to open a consultation on security of tenure for private renters. Mr Wilson Craw said he hoped the campaign would “build up pressure” on the government.
But he warned of the need to deal with these issues properly and of the danger that the government “will just offer landlords a few incentives to improve their offer to tenants very mildly and that’s what we would like to avoid.”
He also said that, in the event of section 21 being abolished, “you need some limit on rent increases because, if landlords can no longer evict someone using section 21, they can just say: ‘Here’s a huge rent increase’.”
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