Eviction protestors occupy DCLG
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Housing
Protestors against evictions and insecurity of tenure yesterday occupied the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Campaigners from the protest group London Renters bedded down in sleeping bags in the DCLG's lobby in an effort to draw attention to the issue of evictions by private landlords - which the protestors claim has become the leading cause of homelessness.
The protestors organised the occupation after hearing reports of a workshop held by the DCLG about ways of making it easier for landlords to evict tenants.
London Renters wants secure tenancies for all tenants and an end to ‘no fault’ evictions.
Emma Bradshaw, one of the activists, said: “It is already easier to evict a tenant in the UK than it is in any other European country and it is disgraceful that the government are thinking about making it even easier.
"Landlords ending private tenancies are now the main cause of homelessness and the number of evictions has been soaring since 2010. Instead of making it easier for landlords to evict tenants, we need secure tenancies to reduce homelessness and allow people to build lives in their communities without fear.”
Some of the members of the groups behind the occupation claim they have themselves been evicted for asking for repairs to be done, or for joining a local tenants’ campaign.
Research by housing charity Shelter found that 1 in 33 renters had been a victim of a 'retaliatory eviction', and 1 in 8 are so fearful of being evicted that they would not ask for repairs to be done.
Raymond Ambler, from London Renters, said: “While we would welcome restrictions on the ability of landlords to issue section 21 possession notices where a property is in disrepair or needs improvements, we consider that alone this is not adequate to address the wider problem of insecurity of tenure in the private rented sector.
"For example, tenants also fear evictions for joining or being seen to be involved in private tenants groups or other housing campaigns, questioning rent increases or asking permission to make changes to their home or living arrangements like hanging pictures or keeping a pet. We consider that section 21 should be removed entirely, and private tenants should have the same rights and security as social tenants with secure tenancies.
“In the case of preventing retaliatory eviction in response to a tenant’s request for repairs, we consider that the restriction on the use of section 21 possession notices should cover any complaint about property conditions, not just where serious disrepair or the need for major improvements is found.”