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On Thursday 5th May, members of the Renters Reform Coalition will hand a letter into 10 Downing Street to urge Boris Johnson to end unfair evictions for good in 2022 and announce a Renters’ Reform Bill in next Tuesday’s Queens Speech.

The government has been committed to abolishing Section 21 evictions, whereby private landlords can evict tenants without needing a reason, since April 2019, but renters are still waiting for the changes to be passed into law. A letter to the Prime Minister signed by 33 organisations urges him to deliver on this commitment.

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Dear Prime Minister

We are writing to urge you to keep your promise to bring forward the Renters’ Reform Bill in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 10 May 2022.

In April 2019, the government announced a commitment to end Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, pledging that “private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason”. This change is keenly anticipated by private renters, who have watched the government recommit to a Renters’ Reform Bill at the Queen’s Speech in December 2019 and in 2021.

Three years on from this government’s first commitment, private renters up and down the country are relying on you to fulfil your promise of a Renters’ Reform Bill and make 2022 the year unfair evictions end for good.

With the rising cost of living, additional pressure is being placed on renters of all ages and backgrounds. Rapidly rising rents are squeezing household budgets and pushing ordinary people further from the dream of home ownership. The end of Coronavirus Act protections means that, until section 21 is repealed, renting families live in fear that requests for repairs could be met with an eviction that uproots their lives and adds further financial strain.

As outlined in the Levelling Up White Paper, the private rented sector has almost doubled in size in the past decade. Yet, one in eight privately rented homes in England pose a threat to tenants’ health, and the National Audit Office recently found that reforms to date have not been effective in ‘ensuring the sector is consistently fair for renters’. The Renters’ Reform Bill is a golden opportunity to fix these issues, essential to levelling up prosperity across the country.

This is why reforming private renting is a critical component of the government’s domestic policy agenda. Renters across England are crying out for an end to unfair evictions and expect to see this reflected in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May.

Our organisations, and our supporters, stand alongside private renters in calling for the government to keep its promise to deliver the Renters’ Reform Bill.

The letter is signed by the following:

Renters’ Reform Coalition Members

• Sue James, Chair, Renters’ Reform Coalition
• Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Shelter
• Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice
• Kiran Ramchandani, Director of Policy and External Affairs, Crisis
• Joe Cole, Chief Executive, Advice 4 Renters
• Paul Kissack, Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
• John McMillan, Chair, Camden Federation of Private Tenants
• Alicia Kennedy, Director, Generation Rent
• Michael Deas, Coordinator, London Renters Union
• Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation
• Rohan Kon, Chair, ACORN the Union
• Julie Bishop, Director, Law Centres Network
• Portia Msimang, Coordinator, Renters Rights London
• Ben Clay, Lead Organiser, Greater Manchester Tenants’ Union
• Ben Reeve-Lewis, Strategic Case Manager, Safer Renting
• Dr Phil James, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
• Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, NUS VP Higher Education, National Union of Students
• Anela Anwar, Chief Executive, Z2K
• Leigh Pearce, Chief Executive, Nationwide Foundation
• Jim Minton, Chief Executive, Toynbee Hall
• Anya Martin, Director, PricedOut

Renters’ Reform Coalition Partners

• Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK
• Lord John Bird, Founder, Big Issue
• Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs, Step Change
• Zoe Gardner, Policy and Advocacy Manager, JCWI
• Brian Robson, Executive Director, Northern Housing Consortium
• Jo Bibby, Health Director, Health Foundation
• John Palmer, Director of Policy and Communications, Independent Age
• Dominic Sullivan, Interim Chief Executive, Cats Protection
• Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director, Officer, Dogs Trust
• Judith Banjoko, Interim Chief Executive, Solace Women’s Aid
• Sarah Longlands, Chief Executive, CLES
• Tim Sigsworth, Chief Executive, akt
• Joanna Leighton, Chair, Tenants’ Association of the National Trust

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Sue James, Chair of the Renters Reform Coalition, says:

“Most of the homes the government needs to improve as part of its levelling up agenda are in the private rented sector but this won’t happen unless tenants feel confident to raise issues of disrepair with their landlord. Unless the Queens Speech contains measures to reform the rental market the government will fail in its mission to level up housing.

“With the rising cost of living, additional pressure is being placed on renters of all ages and backgrounds. Rapidly rising rents are squeezing household budgets and pushing ordinary people further from the dream of homeownership. Until Section 21 is repealed, renting families live in fear of an unplanned house move adding further financial strain to their situation.”
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said:

“Private landlords are getting away with renting out poor quality homes that can make people ill because it is easy to evict a tenant who complains. Even when it’s serious enough for the council to get involved, most tenants still don’t get the protection they need.

“Getting rid of Section 21 evictions entirely, and requiring landlords to provide legitimate grounds for eviction, will give tenants more confidence to demand improvements. Renters can’t wait any longer – the government must finally deliver on its promise to reform renting in next week’s Queens Speech.”

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Section 21 can be used by landlords in retaliation to a complaint, which leads to disrepair and tenants being afraid to exercise their rights. Tenants can be protected from eviction in this situation, but rely on councils serving an improvement notice on their landlord.
New data from Generation Rent estimates that two thirds of private renters who are living in unsafe homes remain exposed to revenge evictions, as a result of council inaction.

Generation Rent made Freedom of Information requests to 115 councils. Of those, 83 councils recorded the number of homes found to have severe “Category 1” hazards and the number of improvement notices they served. Despite 4,852 unsafe homes being identified, these councils served just 1,578 improvement notices – just one in three tenants (33%) was protected from a revenge eviction.

The government promised a Renters Reform Bill in the 2019 Queens Speech, then in May 2021 promised a White Paper to set out reforms. It restated its commitment to Section 21 abolition in the Levelling Up White Paper, as part of its mission to halve the number of non-decent homes by 2030 and increase the number of first-time buyers.

The Renters Reform Coalition is delivering the letter today so that this commitment is at the top of the Prime Minister’s in-tray after the polls close.