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Government to crack down on unfair evictions

Credit – Keith Edkins

The government has announced it is set to crack down on private landlords unfairly evicting their tenants at short notice without good reason.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has outlined its plans to consult on new laws abolishing section 21 (‘no-fault’) evictions, which are one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.

Currently landlords are able to evict tenants from their homes with as little as eight weeks’ notice after a fixed-term tenancy has ended, leading tenants to live in fear of eviction.

The government has called it the ‘biggest change in a generation’ to the private rented sector, with over four million people now living in privately rented accommodation.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, said: ‘By abolishing these kinds of evictions, every single person living in the private rented sector will be empowered to make the right housing choice for themselves – not have it made for them.

‘And this will be balanced by ensuring responsible landlords can get their property back where they have proper reason to do so.’

Under the proposals, landlords will still be able to evict tenants if they have a clear and evidenced reason already existing in law for bringing tenancies to an end.

However, landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants unexpectedly if their fixed-term contract has come to an end without specifying a reason.

Ministers have also pledged to speed up court proceedings and to amend section 8 notices to help landlords regain their home if they plan to move into it or sell it.

Local authorities and charities have praised the government’s move, calling it a ‘serious step’ in improving the lives of tenants.

However, with sky-high rents another key cause of homelessness, they have said that more also needs to be done to tackle the UK’s lack of affordable rented homes.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, commented: ‘We now need to see the housing and social security systems work together to ensure that people are not swept into poverty due to the shortage of low cost rented homes.’

The government must adapt welfare reforms such as Universal Credit and reform Right to Buy to allow councils to build more genuinely affordable council homes, the Local Government Association said.

The government’s announcement comes weeks before the implementation on 1 June of the new Tenant Fees Act, which will ban unfair letting fees and cap tenancy deposits at five weeks’ rent.

Critics have said that the Tenant Fees Act does not go far enough to protect London’s renters, who pay almost double for deposits on average than renters elsewhere in the country.

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