Lancaster evictions spark protection plea for tenants

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Lancaster MP Cat Smith has said more needs to be done 
to give increased rights to families who rent housing.

Her plea comes in light of new figures which reveal how hundreds of Lancaster families have been evicted from their homes over the last five years.

They include at least 54 “no-fault evictions”, which the Government has pledged to abolish to prevent landlords removing tenants from their homes at short notice and without giving a specific reason.

Ministry of Justice data shows that 276 households in Lancaster City Council were evicted from their homes in the five years to March this year.

Of these, 54 were subject to a “accelerated possession” court order – used to remove tenants who have not left the property by the date set out in a section 21 notice, which can provide tenants with as little as eight weeks’ notice to leave once the fixed term in their tenancy agreement expires.

But because many cases do not make it to court, the number of “no-fault” evictions could be much higher. In addition to the 54 accelerated repossessions in Lancaster, there were 55 evictions by private landlords, and 167 by social landlords.

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to end “unfair evictions” to stop landlords being able to “unexpectedly evict families with only eight weeks’ notice”.

Campaign group Generation Rent said a combination of rising rents, stagnant wages and declining welfare support had fuelled an increase in evictions in recent years.

Hannah Slater, from the group, said: “Analysis by Generation Rent shows that high house prices correlate with rising evictions, as buy-to-let landlords kick out tenants to cash in on their properties.”

She added: “Section 21 is commonly used for revenge evictions when tenants ask for repairs, and has fuelled buy-to-let and driven up housing costs.”

She said the number of “no-fault” evictions could be much higher as the data only showed cases that made it to court, and “most renters simply leave when told to and their eviction isn’t recorded anywhere”.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: “This government is committed to rebalancing the relationship between tenants and landlords to deliver a fairer, good quality and more affordable private rented sector.

“That’s why we are putting an end to ‘no-fault evictions’ by repealing Section 21 of the Housing Act, giving tenants greater security as part of our ongoing work to make a better system for both tenants and landlords.”