Allowing people to be without a home is one of the most problematic and unjust problems society faces. If you don’t have a home, you don’t have a base to allow you to care for yourself and to contribute to society. If you don’t have a home, you can’t care for yourself or others. If you don’t have a home, every single day is a fight for survival. We should not be fighting for survival, we should be given the ability and the power to thrive.
Instead, governments hand that power to the rich people in society via, in some cases, draconian laws. All this does is benefit those who don’t think of the human cost but think more of their (usually, already sizeable) bank accounts. An even bigger injustice is that these homes that are being rented out at the highest price possible, have often been acquired under the ‘right to buy’ scheme which involves the selling off of our council houses (which were built to give affordable accommodation to the working class in society, thanks for that Thatcher!) to landlords who use them as a cash cow.
One of the ways in which we hand this power to landlords is under a Section 21 eviction, known as a “no fault eviction”. This is exactly what it says on the tin. You can be evicted from your property, THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN, by your landlord any time after your initial short term contract is up. Let us say, for example, that you move into a private rented property, paying all the fees and charges you must pay on moving in. You keep the property in good condition, get along with the neighbours, pay your rent on time, have perfect property inspections with no issues for the entire time you are at this property; you are the perfect tenant. Then three to four years on, your landlord decides that they want you out of the property and give you 60 days’ notice. You and your family are then, through no fault of your own, on a timer to find another suitable property within 60 days or be homeless. That is the reality that faces families today, who are renting from private landlords.
I don’t need to use my imagination to think what it must feel like for those families and their children, because it happened to me. In my case, this was because my landlord had some plans for the property that involved a few months of work. They needed the property empty for this work to be carried out. Therefore, his tenant of nearly 4 years was thrown out like yesterdays newspaper. For me and my family, this decision meant that once again searching desperately for an affordable property within the local area. Worrying about having to find another deposit of around £500-£600 plus whatever letting agency fees are charged, on top of a month’s rent in advance.
I was lucky, as I have a brilliant family who helped and supported me, my wife and children through this time. We could have quite easily ended up on the streets through no fault of our own. An even bigger injustice is that women are more likely to be vulnerable to this, as we now know some landlords (a minority, but still too many!) ask for “sex 4 rent” – and if the woman refuses, they could be evicted under this law. ITV recently produced a documentary on this, which is available on their catch-up ITV Hub service and well worth a watch.
Who is at risk of being evicted through “no fault evictions”? Anybody who is not in a ‘fixed-term’ tenancy, which is said to be 42% of tenants. Women are more likely to be told to put up with poor conditions. You have no legal way of fighting against a Section 21 eviction, but that does not mean you are powerless. We here at Clwyd South Labour Party are hoping that our Welsh government END this unjust, inhumane law and hand some power BACK to the tenants. Landlords are protected from bad tenants already with laws to evict them for non-payment of rent or damage to their property. All we want is the balance of power tipped slightly back into the favour of those who rent, and allow them some security in their own home.
END no fault evictions!
In Solidarity, Nick Claffey – Penycae Community Councillor, Rhos/Johnstown/Penycae/Ruabon/Ponciau/Rhostyllen Branch Labour Party Treasurer & Clwyd South Labour Party member.