At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday November 16th, Rupa Huq, the Ealing Central and Acton MP, pressed the Government to move forward with abolishing Section 21, no fault evictions, on behalf of concerned residents of Ealing Central and Acton.
She asked the Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was in Bali for the G20 Summit, “Does the Deputy Prime Minister’s comeback […] and the new direction of tomorrow signal that the ban on no fault evictions from the last manifesto is all back on after zilch from the last Prime Minister?”
In 2019 the Conservative Party Manifesto announced intentions to abolish Section 21 no fault evictions. This rule currently allows landlords to evict tenants without a reason and give them a minimum of two months’ notice to vacate the residence. The Government has not acted on this promise and this rule still stands. Indeed recent government figures show they increased by 9,000 from the previous financial year bringing the total number of households in England evicted under this rule in 2021/2022 to nearly 20,000.
In response to the Ealing Central Acton MP’s question, Deputy Prime Minister replied, “I know my Right Honourable friend the Housing Secretary is looking at all of these matters […] I won’t prejudice what further measures he’s going to come forward with. But I will ask him to write to you to address the specific proposals you’re making”. Dr. Huq’s reaction to was that she “was disappointed to not receive a more specific answer.
In June the Government published The White Paper on Renters’ Reform, including plans to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions. In early October, there were mixed messages about whether the Government would go ahead with its proposed ban. One resident told us, “the recent chaos at the top of government has been unsettling for private renters like me. We are concerned that the government might U-turn on plans to scrap section 21 no fault evictions, abandoning their commitment to renters”.
This issue is of particular importance given the current housing and cost of living crises. According to the Office for National Statistics, 93% of adults in Great Britain reported an increase in their cost of living in August-September 2022. An effect of this crisis is that thousands of families are at risk of homelessness or have already been made homeless. The Government’s live tables on homelessness have reported that, the number of households who have approached their local council and were found to be homelessness or threated with homelessness between February and March 2022 (74,230) has increase by 11% (7,600) from the October to December 2021 figure (66,630). Section 21 makes it easier to evict residents that now do not have the financial capability or options available to find another accommodation. MP Huq expressed her concerns about these compounding factors to the Deputy Prime Minister in her question, stating that “no family on a whim” should “get left out in the cold this winter” and stressed that “if necessary” emergency powers be used to “get it on the statute book”.
Recently in Acton, a family of five was evicted under Section 21. Two members of the family are disabled, and they are in desperate need of other accommodations but have been rejected due to the fact that they qualify for Housing Benefit. Another Acton resident expressed her frustration that even though she has been going through channels like the Ealing Council Homelessness hotline she has been denied assistance due to her landlord’s refusal to provide her with a proper eviction notice.
In a session where Mr Raab was under fire from other MPs for bullying accusations against him by former staff Rupa said “I didn’t want to go down the personal route but raise a genuine question that constituents are worried about, a high proportion of whom are renters, in Ealing, Acton and Chiswick. People should never be at their landlord’s whim.”
The question was highly praised by a number of charities in the sector. Rupa told us “I remain optimistic that the Conservatives will act on this. It’s not about right and left but right and wrong. It was later confirmed in Parliament on Monday that plans to end no fault evictions will go ahead but there is still no concrete date, and I will be pressing for this.”