The use of rent hikes could become a backdoor to no-fault eviction, say tenants in the LRU in advance of a Westminster Day of Action organised by the Renters Reform Coalition.
Tomorrow, hundreds of renters and campaigners will meet with MPs to demand basic security for renters. LRU is calling on the government to ensure the long-overdue Renters Reform Bill redresses the power imbalance between renters and landlords, and protects households from all forms of unfair eviction.
Housing security is intrinsically linked to affordability. Over the winter, section 21 evictions were up 143% off the back of sweeping inflation-busting rent rises. Homelessness is on the rise, with the loss of a private tenancy a leading cause. While 1 in 4 privately rented homes are in a state of serious disrepair, the threat of retaliatory eviction stops many from speaking out against dangerous housing conditions.
Last year’s white paper set out to “empower” tenants to “challenge unfair hikes” and other mistreatment. However, current plans to challenge rent increases through tribunal do not take into account the scale of rent-related insecurity and will not redress the huge power imbalance between renters and landlords.
Renters are facing an affordability crisis with many unable to afford any further increase in rent. Combined with plans to make eviction on the grounds of arrears easier, this could incentivise landlords to use large rent rises as a backdoor to no-fault eviction.
Section 21 was introduced by Thatcher in 1988 as part of a wider deregulation of the PRS that gave landlords the power to regularly drive up rents and evict renters who stand up for their rights. The government promised to abolish section 21 in 2019, following a long campaign from the LRU and wider housing movement. Last month, city mayors and trade unions joined LRU in calling on the government to implement a temporary Scotland-style rent freeze.
Jaz Sadri, LRU member, said, “I have been evicted three times since the beginning of the pandemic with section 21 evictions and rent hikes.
“In two cases, I was served an eviction notice after complaining about a lack of hot water and heating in my home. I’ve had to get used to accepting poor-quality housing and the knowledge that I will not be able to settle down anywhere. It makes it really difficult to feel at home in your own house.”
Liam Miller, Spokesperson for LRU, said, “Without adequate protection from unfair rent hikes, renters will face the same insecurity they’ve known for decades.
“Everybody deserves a secure home where they can plan for the future. Section 21 gives landlords huge power over our lives and forces us to accept unfair treatment for fear of retaliatory eviction. Millions are struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford further rent increases. Under current plans, rent hikes would become a backdoor to no-fault eviction, putting many at risk of homelessness and leaving renters just as powerless to challenge mistreatment.”
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