Renters need change now

Housing law allows landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason - meaning people like Okwuchi often face prejudice or are punished for asking for repairs. It's this insecurity faced by tenants that the Government promised to address with a new Renters Reform Bill, and we've joined the Renters Reform Coalition to hold them to that.

Rose Bernstein, Tenant Voice and Campaigns

Today, the 15th April, is the two year anniversary of a promise made by the Government to end s.21 ‘no-fault’ evictions from private rented properties

Under s.21 of the Housing Act of 1988, a landlord can give a tenant notice – i.e. ask them to leave, without having a reason. In reality, this means landlords often evict their tenants because they don’t  like them, because they want to raise the rent, or because the tenants have asked for repairs one too many times.

Okwuchi lives in London with her 3 children. In summer last year she was evicted and had to find somewhere fast.

I loved where I was living, I loved the ambience the area. It was a nice flat, good for bringing children up. But I was forced to move.

She struggled to find somewhere in time, facing prejudice from landlordsat every turn.

It’s difficult to rent in London. Especially for women who are single and have children – most of the landlords don’t want to give their flats to single women. They look at them as benefit dependent. They want to rent to people who are in high class companies.

There are racial issues. Some people don’t want black people to rent an apartment. They want to rent to you but when you show up, black, suddenly the property is gone, but it’s still in the market.

Eventually she was desperate, and she took anything she could find. The flat she rented was in a good area, but it was not a good flat. It was tiny, infested with cockroaches, and in a state of disrepair. But she and her children needed somewhere to live so they moved in, paying rent regularly (often in advance) and dealing with the problems one by one

And then, in October, just three months after she moved in, Okwuchi was given a s.21 notice.

I was shocked because I had just barely moved in and things were not in place in the house. There was a lot going on, a lot I wanted them to do – the cockroaches, the boiler. And then I got an eviction.

I thought that maybe it was because I was asking them for things to get done they gave me the eviction.

Two moves in a year is very hard on anyone, but particularly on children. And this kind of insecurity and instability is inevitable when a landlord can evict tenants on a whim. As Okwuchi says,

I believe in law but there shouldn’t be law that targets vulnerable people. In my case I didn’t understand why I got a notice. I had just moved in. I had no behaviour problems where I lived before.

The insecurity faced by tenants as a result of this law is deeply unfair. It affects people like Okwuchi, who needs support and security for her family, not arbitrary evictions used as punishments when tenants ask for essential repairs or a basic level of hygiene.

Today Z2K, along with 21 other housing and homeless organisations, is launching the Renters Reform Coalition campaign to ensure the Government keeps its promise, announced in the last Queen’s Speech, to bring in a Renters Reform Bill to enable tenants to live in a home that is safe and secure – without risk of arbitrary eviction.

Ending s.21 is a vital part of making the Private Rental Sector fairer and better for everyone. You can see what other changes we think are needed on our Tenants Voice page, and find out more about the Renters’ Reform Coalition here

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