Government department taken over in housing protest
Housing activists have occupied the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to protest over rising numbers of evictions.
Protesters from the London Renters action group brought sleeping bags and teddy bears into the entrance lobby of the DCLG headquarters on Wednesday afternoon in a protest over tenants’ rights.
“It is already easier to evict a tenant in the UK than it is in any other European country,” said occupier Emma Bradshaw.
“It is disgraceful that the government are thinking about making it even easier.”
The DCLG has recently issued a document evaluating how to make evictions simpler for landlords.
Currently under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 landlords are obliged to give a mere two months’ notice prior to vacating premises.
Earlier this year the DCLG produced a review on property conditions in the private rented sector where limitations to section 21 were suggested.
Activists say it’s not enough to protect tenants.
“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,” said London Renters organiser Raymond Ambler.
Housing charity Shelter believes retaliatory eviction is rife across the country, with research showing one in 33 renters had fallen victim of vendettas.
London Renters argues that many of its members have been evicted for requesting home owners to cover vital repairs or for joining the campaign.
Campaigners now want safer tenancies and provisions to be put in place when evictions occur.
“Private tenants should have the same rights and security as social tenants with secure tenancies,” Mr Ambler added.
According to government statistics the end of assured shorthold tenancy standards became the single greatest cause of homelessness last year.
Ms Bradshaw insisted that “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.”
A DCLG spokesperson told the Star: “We have set up a working group to look at ways to protect landlords and tenants, to ensure a fair eviction process in the private rented sector.”