Housing crisis: ban on no fault evictions delayed indefinitely by Tory government despite manifesto pledge
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The government has indefinitely delayed its long-promised ban on no fault evictions, which was part of the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove wrote to Tory backbenchers to say the ban on “no-fault” section 21 evictions promised as part of the Renters Reform Bill will not be enacted before a series of improvements are made in the legal system. Campaigners say this could delay the ban for years.
Landlords serve a section 21 notice when there is no specific reason for the eviction, for example, there is no backdated rent due or any issues with the tenancy. This is also known as a no-fault eviction.
Research by the campaign group 38 Degrees has found 87 MPs are landlords - including 19% of Conservatives - earning more than £10,000 in rent this year. A series of Tory MPs voiced their opposition to the bill and the section 21 ban in the second reading in the House of Commons yesterday (23 October), saying it would add “to the burden of landlords”.
Conservative MP Nick Fletcher, a landlord for more than 20 years, said he is concerned the Bill may interfere with the market and “could result in fewer properties to rent and sky-high rents”.
He said the government should be helping landlords and tenants “equally, not one over the other”, adding: “I’m sure the Government’s intentions are honourable but the fact remains that although this bill may initially look favourable to many, it’s simply not and we should be careful not to follow the socialist paths.
“Many socialist promises look good for politicians, that’s why they win elections, but that failure to understand the market and basic economics is why they always end up bankrupting the country.”
While Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said the government seemed “to be tarring every landlord with the same brush” with the bill. He added: “This bill, without pinching the TV headline, is not what it says on the tin. It should be renamed the rogue landlord and nightmare tenants bill, because all it does is force good landlords to take action that they wouldn’t normally take.”
In the Commons, the Housing Secretary Gove sought to bat away suggestions from his own benches that the bill was un-Conservative, telling MPs that section 21 “has been used to silence those who have complained about the quality of their property, to intimidate them into accepting excessive rent rises”.
He added: “It is in nobody’s interest to allow unscrupulous landlords to continue to behave in this way, to allow vulnerable people to be rendered voiceless in this way, and to force the taxpayer to pick up the bill.”
Labour has estimated that since the ending of no-fault evictions was first announced in April 2019, a total of 71,310 households have been kicked out of their homes using a section 21 notice. NationalWorld previously reported that a man was forced to camp outside the home he had been living in since 1978 after he was evicted by bailiffs with a section 21 notice.
On Gove’s letter to Tory MPs, Angela Rayner the Shadow Housing Secretary said: “The government has betrayed renters with this grubby deal with the Tory backbenches. The Conservatives’ long-promised ban on no fault evictions has majority and cross-party support across the House, but this flip-flop kicks it into the long grass.
“Having broken the justice system, they are now using their own failure to indefinitely delay keeping their promises to renters in the most underhand way. The government plans to act as judge and jury in deciding when the courts have been sufficiently improved, meaning their manifesto pledge will likely not be met before the next election.
“This comes at a heavy price for renters who have been let down for too long already. Tens of thousands more families who the government promised to protect, now face the prospect of being threatened with homelessness or kicked out of their homes by bailiffs."
Polly Neate, Shelter CEO, commented: “It’s good to see the Renters Reform Bill back in front of Parliament after months of delays, but the government can’t afford to take its foot off the gas now.
“While needless holdups have stalled the bill’s progress, no fault eviction notices continue to drop through letterboxes, with more than 27,000 families estimated to have been served a section 21 eviction notice since the Bill was first introduced to Parliament back in May.
“With timings for court proceedings back to pre-pandemic levels, there’s no excuse for kicking a ban on no fault evictions into the long grass. Thousands more renters will lose their homes and hopes for safety and security will be extinguished. The government must set out a clear timeline for abolishing these unfair evictions.”
In London, where rents make up 35% of tenants’ income and are rising at record rates, 290 people have faced no-fault evictions every week since the government promised to axe them.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This new analysis is deeply concerning. For too long, landlords have been able to take advantage of exploitative no-fault evictions, which leave renters vulnerable, simply because the government refuses to act.
"It is inexcusable that four years after the Government vowed to ban no-fault evictions, so little progress has been made. Ministers must act swiftly to strengthen and pass the Renters Reform Bill to ensure that renters get the legal protections they desperately need and deserve.”
While Ben Twomey, chief executive of Generation Rent, said: “Section 21 no-fault evictions have caused misery for millions of renters since they were introduced 35 years ago. They rip families apart; they force people to move away from their work and friends and are a leading cause of homelessness in our country.
“The figures released today by the Mayor’s Office are a shocking reminder of the scale of the misery caused by these evictions, with 290 renters each week facing a no-fault eviction in London. The government needs to act now to abolish no-fault evictions in order to give renters greater security."