Liz Truss has committed to ending no-fault evictions as promised in the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto.
During her second PMQs today (12 October), Labour MP Graham Stringer told the House of Commons that backtracking on the committment to end no-fault evictions would be an “act of extreme callousness.” When he then asked the Prime Minister whether or not she could “reassure the 11 million private renters in this country that she will carry out her commitment to get rid of no-fault evictions”, Truss firmly responded “I can”.
It comes after rumours emerged yesterday (11 October), that the Government was planning to scrap the promised ban in a series of drastic housing reforms which would also see certain developers handed an exemption from building affordable homes and some environmental protections ditched. According to The Times, ministers were discussing shelving the legislation, originally drawn up by former levelling up secretary Michael Gove, to get rid of no-fault evictions because it is “not considered a priority by the new administration.”
The Labour Party and various housing campaigners slammed the potential move, arguing that the government would be “betraying millions of renters” and that there is “simply no excuse” to do this to families and households during a cost of living crisis. But the Prime Minister has now confirmed this will not be the case - and the plan to ban no-fault evictions will go ahead as originally pledged in the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto.
While Section 21 no-fault evictions still exist, a landlord can end a tenancy without giving a reason - and tenants have only two months to find somewhere else to live before legal proceedings can start. The number of people at risk of homelessness because of these evictions recently hit a record high, according to government figures.
What was the response yesterday?
Speaking on the plans revealed in The Times, before Truss today committed to going ahead with the ban, Jonathan Hardy, vice chair of community and tenants union Acorn, said: “This is an extremely dangerous move from Prime Minister Liz Truss, which once again shows that she is just interested in looking after the richest in society. Acorn and the rest of the housing movement will not take this lying down. We will be mobilising our members to fight for the safe, secure and affordable homes everyone deserves.”
He added that scrapping or even delaying the ban on Section 21 no-fault evictions, “while many people are struggling to pay bills, meet rising rents, and put food on the table” could lead to more people “being turned out onto the streets in the coming months”.
Meanwhile, Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, commented: “No-fault evictions mean that families can face the disruption and upheaval of moving home and often schools with just two months’ notice. It means unscrupulous landlords can bully tenants into accepting shoddy conditions or unaffordable rent increases. It means that renters have to raid their own savings in order to move home at their landlord’s whim.
“This law has no place in modern society and getting rid of it has rightly been government policy for more than three years. It is one of the most popular items on the Government’s agenda and there’s barely anything left to do but publish the bill and pass it. The Government will be shooting itself in the foot if it ditches the reforms at this point.”
Polling by the Renter Reform Coalition and Opinium found that the proposed reform to “require landlords who want to evict a private renter to first prove their reasons for doing so” had the support of 79% of the public, including 80% of 2019 Conservative Party voters.
Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s shadow housing minister, accused the prime minister of “betraying” private renters. Meanwhile, the party’s shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy, wrote on Twitter: “They crashed the economy. It led to soaring mortgage rates, rents, energy bills and food prices. Their answer is less affordable housing.”
What are some experiences of no-fault evictions?
Siobhan, a mum-of-two in Liverpool, was given a Section 21 notice after 18 months after being a “model tenant.” She struggled to find family homes in the local area which were convenient for school and work, and so felt “pushed into” taking a house in poor condition at a price above her budget.
She told Acorn: "We only took it out of desperation to avoid the legal costs we would have faced if we had moved out any later than the notice expired."
Emma Johnson, who faced a no-fault eviction with her seven-year-old son, is in a similar situation. She felt forced to move into a home “unsuitable” for her and her son and now feels “trapped”.
She previously told NationalWorld: “I can’t get over the injustice of it. I did absolutely nothing wrong and now I can’t live my life where and how I want to.” She said her new home is “dirty and smelly”, “there’s nowhere for her son to play outside” and that the block of flats “is filled with drugs and aggressive characters”.
No-fault evictions allow private landlords to evict tenants without being required to give a reason. The Tories promised to ban these in their 2019 party manifesto and the Prime Minister has confirmed they are still committed to doing so.