New government plans to ban “no-fault” evictions for renters have been given a cautious welcome by housing campaigners.
Although the plans will give renters more security by ensuring landlords will no longer be able to force people to leave their homes at short notice for no good reason, the root cause of the housing crisis – a lack of affordable homes – remains.
At present tenants can be evicted under section 21 with just eight weeks’ notice if their fixed term contract has ended; a process which is one of the primary causes of families becoming homeless.
Under the changes, landlords will instead have to serve eviction notices under section 8 – used when a tenant is in rent arrears, has broken the terms of the rental contract or is involved in antisocial or criminal behaviour.
Ministers said the section 8 process will be amended so that landlords who wish to sell or move into a property they are renting can use it to do so.
Shadow housing secretary and Labour MP John Healey said the reforms are needed but cautioned that much more needs to be done.
“Any promise of new help for renters is good news but this latest pledge won’t work if landlords can still force tenants out by hiking the rent. For nine years, the Tories have failed to tackle problems facing private renters,” Healey said.
“Tenants need new rights and protections across the board to end costly rent increases and sub-standard homes as well as to stop unfair evictions. Labour is committed to giving renters the rights they deserve, including control on rents, indefinite tenancies and new legal minimum standards.”
Severe housing crisis
England is facing a severe housing crisis, with almost 280,000 people homeless, low income renters spending an average of 67 per cent of their wages on rent and half of all young people permanently prevented from getting their foot on the housing ladder.
Under the current government housebuilding in England has dropped to around 130,000 a year – the lowest level since the Second World War and far below the Tories target of 300,000 homes a year.
In January, the government was told by a cross-party housing commission set up in the wake of Grenfell Tower disaster that 3m new homes for social rent need to be built over the next 20 years if England’s housing needs are to be met.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail agreed that building more council housing is the only way to tackle root cause of the crisis.
Cartmail said, “The Conservatives equate housing with markets and money, rather than what it actually is: A basic human right. We won’t change the attitude of the present government in regards to the purpose of housing, so we need to change the government.
“Only Labour can deliver the bold and ambitious change needed to end the housing crisis and get our country building again.”