The government’s expected U-turn on the future of Section 21 eviction powers has provoked an explosion of anger from Generation Rent and other activists.
The Times - carrying what looks like well-informed leaks on new housing policies from the Liz Truss government - suggests that the pledge to scrap Section 21, made on multiple occasions by the Boris Johnson administration, may be dropped in the immediate future.
Activists had branded S21 the ‘no fault eviction’ - a phrase picked up by some politicians and mainstream media wanting a soundbite to explain the much more complex details of the provision.
Baroness Alicia Kennedy - a Labour peer before becoming director of pro-tenant lobby group Generation Rent - says in a statement: “No-fault evictions mean that families can face the disruption and upheaval of moving home and often schools with just two months’ notice. It means unscrupulous landlords can bully tenants into accepting shoddy conditions or unaffordable rent increases. It means that renters have to raid their own savings in order to move home at their landlord’s whim.
“This law has no place in modern society and getting rid of it has rightly been government policy for more than three years. Ministers have stuck by it through a general election, three Queen’s Speeches, and a pandemic, and finally this summer we got a package of reforms which had the broad support of the whole sector.
“It is one of the most popular items on the government’s agenda and there’s barely anything left to do but publish the Bill and pass it. The government will be shooting itself in the foot if it ditches the reforms at this point.”
Her deputy at Generation Rent - Dan Wilson-Craw - also went on the attack and on Twitter he says: “No-fault evictions make it impossible for private renters to put down roots, negotiate rent and ask landlords to fix disrepair. A decision to abandon the summer's White Paper would be a betrayal of England's 11m private renters, and a gift to the worst kind of landlords …
“There is shedloads of polling that tells the PM why this reversal is a bad idea - but this one shows how overwhelmingly popular tenancy reform is compared with the rest of the government's agenda, second only to levelling up …
“And if this is all about growth, you simply would not maintain a law that puts 1 in 5 households in a state of precarity with reduced ability to plan their lives, and forces them to burn through savings in order to move home at the whim of their landlord.”
From Shelter, the campaigning charity, director Osama Bhutta claims: “Make no mistake, a government U-turn on banning no fault evictions will pour fuel on the housing emergency and make thousands homeless.
”The Prime Minister has no mandate to shred manifesto commitments and turn her back on 11 million private renters. Nor does she have the right to betray over a million households stuck on social housing waiting lists by slashing the already tiny number of social homes that get built. The government should be doing all it can to build the stable, genuinely affordable homes this country needs, but it’s doing the opposite. No one wants to see people unfairly evicted, and no one wants to see homelessness surge in a cost of living crisis. The government must change its mind, it can do it now or do it after grasping the anger of millions of people.”
Crisis, a homelessness charity, is also up in arms, saying that the housing market is increasingly volatile with tenants on the receiving end if landlords hike rents to make up for increased mortgage costs.
Chief executive Matt Downie comments: “We’re within touching distance of a genuinely transformative opportunity to finally shift the power balance and give renters a much-needed layer of protection from losing their home. To scale back on preventing the leading cause of homelessness now would be disastrous.
“The cost of living crisis is already putting people under unprecedented pressure, leaving them struggling to cover the costs of rent and basic essentials. To be suddenly turfed from your home at a moment's notice is only going to create a winter of misery and homelessness for thousands.
“To pull the plug on what should have already been brought into law years ago is shameful. The Government must realise that this is an epidemic that requires urgent attention. They must end no-fault evictions as soon as possible – or we’ll see thousands more people pushed into homelessness this winter.”
Meanwhile Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary - Lisa Nandy - also tweets: “Millions of people are only a few weeks from losing their home through no fault of their own. The Tories promised to stop this at the last election. Now this. You cannot trust a single word they say.”
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