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Ban on 'no reason' evictions spells victory for Newham's 43,500 renters

PUBLISHED: 14:10 16 April 2019

Renters getting fair deal with government legislation to outlaw summary evictions. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Renters getting fair deal with government legislation to outlaw summary evictions. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

PA Wire/PA Images

Renters have won a resounding victory with government plans to outlaw landlords evicting tenants with summary notices without reason.

Renters’ protest in 2014 to stop whistle-blower Michael James being evicted after 24 years for complaining about a dangerous roof structure. Picture: Mike BrookeRenters’ protest in 2014 to stop whistle-blower Michael James being evicted after 24 years for complaining about a dangerous roof structure. Picture: Mike Brooke

It spells victory for Newham's 43,500 privately-rented households, four-out-of-10 across the area who have been at the forefront of the London Renters Union fight for a fair deal.

Landlords under current rules can evict 'no fault' tenants at any time with a Section 21 Notice after a fixed-term rental contract ends, without giving a reason.

“Section 21 is pernicious legislation that renters will be glad to see the back of,” London Renters Union's Amina Gichinga said.

“The legislation brought in 30 years ago allows landlords to evict tenants at a moment's notice, leaving misery and homelessness in its wake.

“The fear of eviction discourages renters complaining about disrepair and poor conditions.”

The renters' union launched in Newham in 2018 now has branches Hackney and Lewisham with thousands of members.

Renters cross Tower Bridge in protest march to City Hall in 2015 at launch of campaign against summary evictions. Picture: Trade Unions’ Socialist CoalitionRenters cross Tower Bridge in protest march to City Hall in 2015 at launch of campaign against summary evictions. Picture: Trade Unions’ Socialist Coalition

“But landlords can still force us out simply by hiking up rents,” Amina warns. “We're not just 'a convenient source of income' for property investors—we are people who need homes to live in.”

The renters' union has been part of the 'End Unfair Evictions' campaign coalition along with Generation Rent and other organisations which got 50,000 signatures on a petition to abolish Section 21 in just 10 weeks last year.

So-called 'revenge' evictions were rife when landlords used Section 21 to get rid of tenants complaining about living standards, the Generation Rent campaign pointed out.

Tenants complained about bad conditions to Newham Council 877 times in the 12 months to March 2018, according to a Freedom of Information request.

The council carried out 700 inspections and issued 52 improvement notices to stop landlords issuing eviction notices for six months.

One-in-five households up and down the country now rent their home, which is double what it was in 2002, according to latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Landlords will now be required to provide a “concrete 'evidenced reason' already specified in law” for bringing tenancies to an end.

This effectively creates open-ended tenancies, Housing minister James Brokenshire points out.

The government was taking action because evictions were now one of the biggest causes of family homelessness, he stressed.

Shelter homeless charity's chief executive Polly Neate said: “This change will slam the brakes on unstable short-term tenancies and give renters security.”

But Labour fears the proposals won't prevent landlords forcing tenants out with rent hikes.

The average monthly rent in Newham is £1,413, nearly double the national average of £844. Renting a single room averages at £670, while a four-bedroom property is nearly £2,000.

The Residential Landlords Association recognised calls for change, but warned that “good landlords needed to have confidence” to invest in new properties.

This meant being able to repossess properties swiftly for legitimate reasons such as rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or wanting to sell up.

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