0:07 AM, 16th June 2023, About 9 months ago 9
Citizens Advice has raised concerns about the potential for backdoor ‘no fault’ evictions if Section 21 is banned – and it wants renters to be protected from eviction for the first two years of a new tenancy.
The charity says it has seen a surge in tenants seeking assistance with Section 21 issues, reaching a record-breaking 2,000 cases in May – a 25% increase since May 2022.
It also says that this year has seen an unprecedented demand for support from those who have received a Section 21 notice, with a 9% increase in the first five months of 2023, compared to the same period last year.
The Renters’ Reform Bill aims to put an end to Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, but Citizens Advice fears that landlords may still exploit new eviction grounds and excessive rent hikes to force tenants out of their homes unfairly.
The charity’s acting executive director of policy and advocacy, Matthew Upton, said: “Our advisers are increasingly hearing from renters who are being forced to uproot their entire lives after receiving a Section 21 notice.
“For too long, renters have lived in precarious situations with few protections while landlords have held all the cards.”
He added: “Reforms to the private rental sector are welcome but they’re open to abuse from unscrupulous landlords.
“The government must ensure reforms are watertight and not include loopholes which allow Section 21 evictions to continue by the backdoor.”
The charity says the new Bill will enable landlords to evict tenants six months into their tenancy if they plan to sell the property or move family members in.
However, Citizens Advice’s research reveals that 48% of renters who have faced eviction were told that their landlord intended to sell up.
But the charity fears that the new regulations do not mandate landlords to provide proof of following through on their intentions once the tenant has been evicted.
This loophole, the charity warns, could potentially leave renters vulnerable to unfair evictions despite the proposed ban on Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
Citizens Advice is also warning that landlords may resort to excessive rent increases to force tenants out.
In the past year, it says that 1.8 million households have faced rent hikes or threats of an increase, resulting in 300,000 renters losing their homes.
The charity’s findings reveal that less than 10% of renters who contested a rent increase were successful.
Now Citizens Advice is urging the government to address these loopholes in the Bill to provide tenants with enhanced protection and security.
That includes extending the period during which new tenants are safeguarded from ‘no fault’ eviction from six months to two years.
The charity also recommends implementing measures to ensure that landlords claiming to sell a property cannot quickly re-let it.
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