The government should “think twice” before changing the rules on eviction in the private rented sector, amid signs that the most vulnerable tenants on state benefits are likely to be the biggest casualties of the controversial new initiative.
Ministers are preparing to abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act that gives landlords the power to evict tenants without giving a reason. But in a survey of landlords, the NLA found that of those who had sought to end a tenancy in the past five years, regardless of whether they used this no-fault process or specified they had grounds for eviction, 57% had done so because of rent arrears. Some 43 per cent of respondents said that if the government pressed ahead with its controversial plans, they would become more selective when choosing tenants for their property.
This was a clear message that people on state benefits would be the first victims of the government’s plan to abolish Section 21. In a separate survey, the NLA found that 76 per cent of landlords who let to Universal Credit tenants, 66 per cent of those who let to Housing Benefit tenants, and 63 per cent of those who let to migrant workers experienced rent arrears in the last 12 months.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, says: “Rent arrears is the biggest problem that landlords face, and the main reason why they use Section 21 to evict a tenant. So if the government removes what they see as their only safety net — Section 21 — they will have no option but to become more selective. That will hit people on Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and other state benefits which have fallen way behind rents. They will become the biggest casualties of this ill-thought-out government policy.”
It’s surely not right that the most vulnerable in our society should have to struggle to find accommodation because of the government’s failure to provide landlords with appropriate powers of eviction when faced with rent arrears. We urge the government to think twice before taking this retrograde step.”