Government proposals could lead to unfair evictions

Michael Lloyd

October 14, 2019

Government proposals on replacing Section 21 rules could lead to more tenants being unfairly evicted, Citizens Advice has claimed.

Proposals being considered by the government include a six-month break clause and enabling landlords to evict tenants even though they have not broken any contract terms.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Tenants in private rented accommodation come from all walks of life and they need to feel secure in their homes.

“Like anyone else, they want to put down roots, give their children a consistent education and get on with their careers, without the constant stress of wondering when they might be forced to look for a new place to live.

“We’re fully behind the government’s plan to end to section 21.

“At the same time, we’re deeply concerned that some of the proposals to scrap it contain loopholes.

“This risks the unintended consequence that tenants who complain about disrepair, or struggle to make ends meet, remain just as vulnerable to losing their home at short notice.”

A government consultation into scrapping section 21 has now closed.

Citizens Advice, in its response to the consultation, said unless legislation is watertight and issues are resolved there is a chance this could lead to section 21 “by the backdoor.”

Over half (57%) of those who have received a section 21 eviction notice had made a complaint or request for repairs in the six months before receiving it.

Citizens Advice believes this means some of the most vulnerable people will continue to face an increased risk of losing their home.

The proposals also include provision for landlords to evict tenants if they have one month of rent arrears at the time of a possession hearing in court.

Citizens Advice said this would affect people who have small and short-term rent arrears, leading to more serious debt problems.

However the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) disagreed with Citizens Advice’s claims.

David Smith, policy director at the RLA, said: “Citizens Advice and other tenant groups need to stop exaggerating the seriousness of the problem and are reacting prematurely since ministers have not yet published their response to the consultation.

“The overwhelming majority of landlords prefer to have good tenants paying their rent on time for long-term.

“That is why the government’s statistics show that almost 90% of private tenancies are ended by the tenant and not the landlord.

“By stoking people’s fears tenant groups are creating the sense of insecurity and fear among tenants that they complain about.

“The RLA recognises that there are bad landlords in the market who need to be rooted out. Getting rid of Section 21 however will not achieve this.

“What is required is proper enforcement of the range of powers already available to councils including the laws which already make so called revenge evictions illegal.”

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