Ban unfair evictions for life, not just Christmas says Hackney Mayor
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
The Mayor of Hackney has called for a ban on unfair evictions for good, not just for Christmas.
The government announced, on September 10, that the notice period for evictions will be extended for six months and will cover the Christmas and winter periods. Landlords will not be able to evict tenants until March 2021 except in extreme cases.
But Mayor Phillip Glanville wants long-term security for renters, despite welcoming the extension, and has renewed calls for a permanent end to Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.
He told the Gazette: “ “The coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the complete absence of security and stability that thousands of private renters in Hackney and millions across England face.
“But while renters will of course welcome an extension of support over the winter period, they also deserve more than a series of temporary fixes for what was a permanent problem long before the pandemic hit.”
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Before the eviction freeze due to the coronavirus crisis,“no-fault” evictions could often result in landlords giving tenants as little as two months’ notice to vacate without having to give a reason.
Hackney resident and housing Researcher Faith Taylor and her wife were served an eviction notice in August. They were set to be evicted in December before the government’s recent announcement.
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Faith said the “horrific” situation has been stressful and anxiety-ridden: “[We] have treated the flat like our little paradise because it is its our first ever place together. It’s so cruel to be chucked out of somewhere that you’ve done so much work on.”
She believes no-fault evictions leave renters “relatively powerless” and the rule allows landlords to “do what they want”.
“If the landlord hates you they can just give a section 21 order to repossess your home and they don’t need to give a reason,” she said.
The government promised to abolish unfair evictions in April last year.
The then Prime Minister Theresa May said at the time that the government’s commitment to ending unfair evictions was an “important step” to “protect tenants from unethical behaviour”.
But the mayor doesn’t think action should be delayed any longer. He said: “It’s time that ministers got on and delivered it.”
Mayor Glanville and Mayoral Adviser for Affordability and Private Renting, Cllr Sem Moema have called for the ban to come in before the temporary eviction freeze ends in a letter to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP.
Research by renter advocate organisation Generation Rent, published on August 19, reveals that Section 21 evictions are the leading cause of homelessness in England and with over 30,000 households in the borough renting privately, nearly one in three Hackney residents are vulnerable to eviction.
The council is calling for the ban to be implemented as part of a package of measures needed to help tackle the borough’s housing crisis and rebuild a better Hackney following the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) says it will bring forward legislation in due course, “once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic” have passed, which will include repealing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
An MHCLG spokesperson said: ““We’ve taken unprecedented action to support renters, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been forced from their home.
“We remain committed to bringing forward reforms to provide greater security to tenants, but it is only right that this is balanced with an assurance that landlords are able to recover their properties where they have valid reasons to do so. This is vital to ensuring the future supply of good quality housing in the rented sector.”
The government department says restarting possession proceedings will be an important step towards transitioning out of emergency measures and will allow the market to operate while ensuring people have appropriate access to justice.
Support and advice for private renters can be found at hackney.gov.uk/better-renting