Lib Dems are pressing for protections against unfair evictions of tenants by rogue landlords.
The plight of renters facing eviction at the whim of rogue landlords has been highlighted in a debate by B&NES Councillors last Thursday evening. Leading the debate, and drawing on her own, moving, personal experiences, Liberal Democrat Councillor Michelle O’Doherty called for urgent action from the government.
Councillors agreed to lobby for the so-called “Section 21” notices to be scrapped. These allow landlords to evict tenants with just two months’ notice, once the initial term of a tenancy has expired, and leave tenants at risk of revenge eviction and debt crises.
Councillor O’Doherty (Newbridge ward), said:
“4 years ago, my family was evicted from our rented home. Our crime was to complain about the damp and mould creeping up the walls of the children’s bedroom, the inadequate heating and the insecure doors and windows.
“We were given 2 months to leave and had to find almost £2000 to pay a new deposit and agent’s fees. This was an incredibly stressful situation. As local people know, finding a decent, and affordable, family home in Bath is not easy.
“Unfair evictions lead to so many problems with debt and mental health. They make it difficult for people to put down roots in a community. Some of these problems become very deep seated and difficult to fix. Ending Section 21 evictions could prevent them from happening in the first place.
“I’m thrilled that Councillors from all parties agreed that action is needed. The Lib Dems are committed to eliminating rogue landlords and improving standards in rental housing.”
Seconding the motion, Liberal Democrat Councillor Alison Born highlighted that the difficulties faced by evicted residents are particularly acute in Bath. She cited competition with the city’s high student population, the growing number of rental properties becoming Air B&B’s and the lack of new homes as responsible for compounding the problem.
On a national level, research by Generation Rent shows that 20% of UK households currently live in private rental properties (up from 10% ten years ago) and this is set to increase further to 25% by the end of 2020/2021. Generation Rent found that evictions caused by Section 21 are now the leading cause of homelessness in the UK. A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats in Bath and North East Somerset said that “these statistics should be a wake-up call to the Conservative government to review Section 21 and take urgent action against unfair evictions.”
Recognising that rogue operators are thankfully rare, Councillors also called for fair safeguards to be included for landlords. Indeed, the spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats added that “a balance must be struck between the rights of good landlords to operate their properties in the best way they see fit with the rights of good tenants to be given a sense of security in their ability to put down roots, and be given resolute protections against unethical practises by their landlords.”
The BathNES Liberal Democrat manifesto included a pledge to improve the quality of rented housing and crack down on rogue landlords. Adopting this motion shows that the Liberal Democrats are committed to fulfilling that manifesto pledge.
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