Ending no-fault evictions – a welcome move but care needed

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18 Apr 2019
by Andrew Redfern

The government has announced its intention to change the law so it would become more difficult for landlords to evict residents without good reason.  As an organisation that supports many people who become homeless as a consequence of eviction, we very much welcome this.    

Whilst this week's proposal is undoubtedly a step forward, changes in tenancy law are unlikely, in themselves, to have much impact on homelessness.  The underlying problem is a lack of sufficient suitable housing, especially for single people.

However, it is crucial that the detail of this new legislation is carefully thought through.  Whilst landlords should not be able to evict people for spurious reasons, they should be able to do so in cases where a resident is deliberately refusing to meet their responsibilities. 

Many private (and indeed social) landlords are already reluctant to take risks in housing people with a history of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.  They need to be able to do so in the knowledge that the law will support them if necessary.  Otherwise this legislation could have the unintended consequence of making it more difficult to resettle people who are homeless. 

The dire shortage of social housing has left us increasingly reliant on the private rented sector to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping.  Anything that disincentivises the provision of homes for the increasing number of people in urgent need would be a source of concern.  It is therefore essential to strike the right balance between protecting the vulnerable from unfair eviction and making it viable for landlords of all types to house them.

Whilst this week's proposal is undoubtedly a step forward, changes in tenancy law are unlikely, in themselves, to have much impact on homelessness.  The underlying problem is a lack of sufficient suitable housing, especially for single people. To address this we need a volume increase in the development of self-contained units. 

It will also be essential to provide the support that is necessary to enable people with high or complex needs to sustain their own tenancies, and to reverse the massive cuts in homelessness prevention funding that have taken place since 2010.  It is these strategic actions, rather than tinkering with housing law, that will really make a difference to the level of homelessness.  

*Andrew is Framework's Chief Executive

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