Ending unfair evictions could reduce homelessness by 9 per cent and save local councils across the country £161million per year, according to a report published today by Generation Rent.
And the problems of homelessness are worst in the capital.
Cross-party body London Councils reckons that 165,000 homeless Londoners live in temporary accommodation arranged by their local borough – accounting for almost two-thirds of the total number across England. Around a quarter of a million Londoners are on waiting lists for council housing.
Since April 2018, 68,430 households have faced homelessness after their landlord evicted them to sell or re-let the property or in retaliation for a complaint, according to the Generation Rent report.
The campaign group’s proposals for tenancy reform would:
- require landlords who wished to sell to compensate their tenants for a blameless home move, and
- ban evictions where landlords simply wished to replace their tenants or avoid responding to a complaint.
In the Queen’s Speech, the government has committed to publishing a White Paper in the autumn which would set out reforms to protect renters, including the abolition of Section 21 “no fault” evictions, a lifetime deposit that transfers between tenancies and regulation of landlords – all policies Generation Rent has campaigned for.
Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that out of 755,250 households made homeless or threatened with homelessness between April 2018 and December 2020, 140,950 had been in a private assured shorthold tenancy.
Of these households, 68,430 had faced an unfair eviction – either following a complaint about disrepair or due to their landlord selling or re-letting the property (49 per cent of private rented sector cases and 9 per cent of the total).
These evictions place a burden on local authorities. In 2019-2020, the most recent year for which we have figures, councils in England spent £543million on prevention, administration and support activities around homelessness. Each of the 289,810 homelessness cases that year cost councils an average of £1,874 to respond to.
In 2019-2020, there were an average of 88,533 households in temporary accommodation, costing councils £1.187billion – an average of £13,410 per household.
“Addressing the housing emergency should be a top priority for the government as we look to build back better from the pandemic,” said Darren Rodwell, a councillor in Barking and Dagenham and London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning.
“The emergency is particularly severe in London, where we face the highest homelessness levels and worst housing pressures in the entire country.
“Boroughs are determined to do everything we can to ensure every Londoner has a safe and secure home – but councils need urgent government action to make this happen. Only the government can bring forward the massive investment in social housing and changes to the welfare system required to resolve the worsening crisis,” Rodwell said.
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: “The government’s commitment to abolishing Section 21 means that landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants just for requesting repairs or on other spurious grounds.
“But without further protections tenants could still face hardship and homelessness if their landlord decides to sell up. It cannot be right for a housing provider to leave their customer in the lurch and expect tenants and taxpayers to pick up the bill.
“Renters can never enjoy a stable life if they can have the rug pulled from under them, so the government’s reforms must make sure renters get proper support during unwanted moves.”
- Click here to access the Generation Rent report, A safe place to call home: Ending unfair evictions and reforming renting
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