Why were we evicted? I had to ask the new tenant to find out – and the reason cuts to the heart of the UK's housing crisis | Ruby Lott-Lavigna

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The telephone astir my eviction came connected a Friday day successful February. The property supplier rang maine from an chartless number to fto maine cognize my housemates and I would request to time off our home. We had only moved successful nan twelvemonth before. “Why?” I asked, confused, pinch a panicky emotion rising successful my chest. “The landlord doesn’t person to springiness a reason,” he said unapologetically and past hung up.

Section 21, aliases “no-fault”, evictions are 1 of nan cruellest facets of nan lodging sector, and they’re progressively common: caller figures show a staggering 52% emergence successful these evictions successful London successful nan past year. The correct to evict a tenant without notice, for nary reason, pinch almost nary ineligible recourse, was introduced successful Margaret Thatcher’s 1988 Housing Act. It doesn’t matter really agelong nan tenant has lived successful their home, aliases if they’ve ever paid rent connected clip – a landlord tin region them, usually pinch conscionable a fewer months’ notice.

The Conservative statement promised to prohibition these evictions and create “a fairer rental market” successful its 2019 manifesto. Almost 5 years on, it has grounded to do so. Since nan promise to scrap these evictions, households person been threatened pinch homelessness at slightest 80,000 times. After nan predetermination was announced, nan renters (reform) bill, which had its 2nd reference successful nan Lords successful May, was successful effect scrapped, because parliamentary clip was trim short earlier nan measure could scope its last stages.

The measure had promised to prohibition immoderate no-fault evictions. First it was delayed, past it was watered down by backbench Conservative MPs, who tried to defer immoderate conception 21 prohibition and make it easier for landlords to evict tenants for antisocial behaviour, weakening nan authorities truthful overmuch that nan Renters’ Reform Coalition, a ample group of lodging charities, withdrew its support for nan measure successful April. Landlord lobbying groups, connected nan different hand, lauded nan “pragmatic” amendments.

Recent information from nan Ministry of Justice suggests 11,880 evictions person taken spot successful London since nan first 4th of 2023. The numbers are besides increasing successful nan remainder of England and Wales, albeit not by rather arsenic much. Yet nan existent number of no-fault evictions that landlords person served is apt to beryllium overmuch higher than these numbers suggest, arsenic MoJ information only captures those no-fault evictions that scope court. Most do not – excavation didn’t – arsenic astir tenants don’t person nan power to prosecute pinch a strategy that almost ever will broadside pinch landlords, truthful agelong arsenic they person served nan eviction legally.

In England, location is nary limit to really precocious your landlord tin group your rent. Ben Twomey, main executive of nan tenants’ authorities group Generation Rent, told maine that profiteering whitethorn beryllium a facet down nan emergence successful no-fault evictions, pinch landlords serving them connected tenants who don’t judge immense rent hikes. “Rents connected caller tenancies person been rising doubly arsenic accelerated arsenic wages complete nan past mates of years and a batch of landlords are pushing tenants retired successful bid to maximise their rental income,” he said. In London, wherever nan biggest emergence successful evictions is taking place, rent is more expensive than anyplace other successful nan UK. It’s unsurprising that immoderate landlords, knowing they could compression moreover much money retired of a tenant, determine to evict those who won’t pay.

But it’s not conscionable rent hikes that displace people. Nico, a 43-year-old renter successful Hove, East Sussex, has been battling a no-fault eviction for a year. Their landlord, who Nico says owns aggregate properties, served a announcement of eviction past year. Nico is disabled, not moving and, arsenic a result, has struggled to find a caller lease, having been connected nan waiting database for a lodging relation successful Scotland for 2 years. Their landlord is trading nan spot – which galore would reason is nan morganatic correct of immoderate spot proprietor – but moreover so, it shows nan inherent problems of relying connected backstage individuals to supply a societal necessity.

On nan phone, Nico holds backmost tears. “Sorry,” they say, “I’m trying not to get upset.” At nan clip of speaking, they had 2 weeks to leave, teetering connected nan separator of homelessness. “I consciousness for illustration I’m being crushed – physically, emotionally, mentally. I consciousness for illustration I person perfectly nary autonomy whatsoever. It is truthful demoralising and degrading.”

After 8 and a half years of surviving successful their flat, Nico has nary much information than personification who has lived location for six months. “It doesn’t matter really overmuch of a ‘good’ landlord personification is,” says Nico. “There’s a monolithic powerfulness imbalance and astatine nan extremity of nan time my landlord has nan powerfulness to wholly upend my life, and he has and that’s legally OK. Morally, it’s wholly not.”

As a governmental journalist, I americium astounded astatine really small attraction our politicians salary to nan reality of renting. But should I be? At slightest 90 MPs are landlords, and during this election, we’ve already seen nan Conservatives’ effort to woo homeowners, who are much apt to vote. Labour has committed to an contiguous prohibition connected conception 21 evictions, but nan statement will request to spell further to make nan assemblage fair. Last week, protector lodging caput Angela Rayner penned an op-ed for The Telegraph, explaining really Labour would present a “first dibs” strategy to thief section “couples” get connected nan lodging ladder. This is hardly an eager scheme to thief renters pinch costs and information issues right now. Both parties stay fixated connected housebuilding – but it takes a agelong clip to build houses. If Labour wins, nan statement should make judge landlords can’t simply evict tenants by raising nan rent, and present astatine slightest 2 months’ rent alleviation for those who are forced to move.

Eventually, I recovered retired why I was evicted. As I was moving my last fewer boxes and a works cookware of herbs, nan caller tenant turned up. I told him nan story, and asked really overmuch nan landlord was now renting nan three-bedroom location for. “£3,000,” he told me. A £700-a-month summation connected our rent, which we had agreed pinch our landlord nan erstwhile year.

It is simply a people of a failing nine that these evictions still exist, that Nico is facing homelessness, and that my landlord tin evict maine to summation nan rent by 30%. We unrecorded successful an economical strategy wherever profiting from lodging sits successful nonstop conflict pinch people’s request for shelter. If Labour gets into power, arsenic nan polls predict, it needs to tackle this inequity immediately. The cruelty of our lodging strategy needs to end.

  • Ruby Lott-Lavigna is news and authorities newsman astatine openDemocracy

Source theguardian