Housing Shortage Sees More Tenants Evicted
Increasing numbers of private tenants are being evicted or exploited by landlords cashing in on the increase in house prices and the shortage of rented accommodation, according to latest figures.
Citizens Advice (CAB) saw a 38% rise in the number of people turning to the charity for help with eviction notices served on them, despite being up to date with their rent.
CAB recorded 5,000 cases across the country in 2013/2014 where tenants complained about being forced from their homes, even though they were not in arrears. That figure is up from 3,750 the previous year.
Problems in London and the South East are particularly acute, the charity said, where many house prices are the highest in the country.
Private tenant Ryan Herran told Sky News he was being forced from his Muswell Hill home of five years, because he complained about damp and mould in the property and demanded his landlord fix the problem.
After months of wrangling with the owner, he was eventually served with a section 21 eviction order.
"I was actually in shock for a couple of days because I've always been a good tenant and always paid my rent and never engaged in anti-social behaviour," he said.
"I did ring up the property management company and they told me they don't have to give a reason under the section 21 eviction notice. They said they felt they were doing me a favour by at least giving me two months notice."
Mr Herran believes his eviction is motivated by spite and certainty on the part of the landlord that he would easily be able to find another tenant.
Roger Harding from the homelessness charity Shelter said: "Sadly landlords can evict for no reason, even if you've been keeping up with the rent.
"We've found many worrying examples where landlords have evicted people simply because they don't want to have to deal with repair issues and that's something we want to see outlawed."
During January to March 2014 house prices rose by 18% in London and 10% in the South East, compared to the same period the previous year.
CAB's figures reveal those rises were mirrored by an increase in private tenants reporting they had been served with eviction notices, despite being up to date with their rent.
The charity said the number of tenants in London and the South East seeking help over eviction notices between January and March 2014 was 900, compared with 400 over the first quarter of the year before.
Landlord Richard Blanco rents out properties across six London boroughs and is also a member of National Landlords Association. He said private landlords are often unfairly maligned.
"There's a small minority of rogue landlords who might try and increase rents but really the most sensible business model for landlords is to maintain the property well and to have a good relationship with tenants and to try to ensure tenants stay as long as possible," he said.
Mr Blanco said, contrary to widespread belief, more than three quarters of private tenants have not faced an increase in rents over the past 12 months.
The Government is in the process of introducing new legislation which it hopes will strengthen the rights of private tenants and help protect them from exploitation, or unjustified eviction.