After four years of dither and delay it is clear that only Labour will offer private renters the security they need. Cllr Will Cooper, Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness
Last month my partner, flatmate and I were given two months to leave the place we had happily called home for the last three years. It was unceremonious, frustrating, and above all upsetting to be told at such short notice we had to leave and find somewhere else to live. The landlord was acting entirely within the law having issued a Section 21 notice – commonly known as a no fault eviction process.
For the last four years and under four different Prime Ministers, renters have been told time and time again that the Conservatives will ban Section 21, the very tool used in my eviction and no fault evictions across Lewisham and the UK.
However, this week the Conservative’s have once again ripped up their promise to ban Section 21. The Renters Reform Bill doesn’t commit to the ban until after the expected court reforms take place, which many predict will take years.
All this does is kick renters’ rights into the long grass, hollowing out the bill into something that does nothing for struggling renters across Lewisham. It is also Labour councils who are having to respond to the fallout of families being evicted. My councillor inbox is full of cases where families are evicted under a Section 21 notice and due to the scale of the Tory housing crisis they cannot find affordable accommodation and are now having to come to the council for support.
Labour are clear when it comes to renters rights: an absolute ban on section 21, an increase in notice periods for tenants, powers to limit the amount of rent that can be asked for up front and a strong decent homes standard for all private renters.
But there is so much more we can do.
- With any ban on section 21 we must seek new guidance and regulation on any new possession grounds, we simply can’t leave this to good faith from landlords in a system where tenants are already taken advantage of.
- We need more clarification about how the renters reform bill will interact with our already overstretched homelessness services, how we deal with any new possession grounds to ensure every resident gets the best service from the council.
- When it comes to major works, we should be asking landlords to compensate tenants moved out for major repairs, ensuring no tenant is evicted for repairs and left without a roof over their heads.
Without proper teeth, it’s clear the Renters Reform Bill will barely be worth the paper it is written on. Renters across Lewisham need robust rights and legislation and government that is on their side and they need it now.
After four years of dither and delay it is clear that only Labour will offer private renters the security they need.