Earlier this month Swindon’s Labor Councillors brought a motion to council calling for an end to no-fault evictions to give greater security to private tenants.

Despite the Conservative councillors calling it “dangerous” and voting against it, our motion was passed. This week, the government announced that it was considering abolishing no-fault evictions. Swindon Labour’s Housing and Homelessness Spokesperson, Emma Bushell explains further:

Some choose to rent in the private sector because of the flexibility it offers; others do so because home ownership is simply beyond their grasp.

Some renters have good experiences with their landlords and properties, others are not so fortunate. What is common to the majority of private renters is that rents are rising all the time and they have very little security. Many are on tenancies with fixed terms of six months or a year; after this period has ended , landlords can evict tenants with just 2 months notice , without having to give a reason. These are so-called Section 21 ‘no fault evictions’

A group called Generation Rent supported by charities such as Shelter, as well as the Labour Party, led a campaign to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault evictions’. It cited research that 80% of evictions are on no-fault grounds and 63% of private renters forced to move in 2016 were evicted not due to any fault of their own but because the landlord wanted to sell or use the property.

Earlier this month Labour Councillors Paul Dixon and Emma Bushell proposed a council motion to scrap Section 21 ‘no fault evictions’ after being contracted by residents supporting the campaign. We argued that this would give tenants greater security, reduce homelessness in the town – and save the council the costs associated with re-housing those unfortunate enough to be victims of Section 21 “no-fault” evictions.

All local conservative councillors present voted against our proposal. They called it “dangerous”. However, many councillors were not able to vote on the motion. As private landlords they were deemed to have a financial interest and therefore not able to take part. Our motion passed.

On April 15th, the government announced that it will consult on plans to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault evictions’ agreeing that it had become one of the leading causes of homelessness. Shelter called this an “outstanding victory” for renters.”

Councilor Paul Dixon Said: “Abolishing Section 21 will not solve all the issues with private renting in Swindon, or elsewhere. Rents will continue to remain high, rogue landlords will continue to provide unsafe accommodation and renters will still struggle to persuade bad landlords to fix faults.  If it controls the council in May, Labour has pledged that it will use Swindon’s Housing Company to build houses for the private rent, increasing the amount of high quality housing for rent and providing an example of how we expect private landlords to act. We also want to make greater use of the powers available to the council to tackle rogue landlords on a self-financing basis.”

Labour’s motion played only a small part in the success of this campaign – but it meant Swindon becoming the 13th Council to formally endorse the call to end Section 21 “no-fault” evictions. However, it is another example of the positive difference councilors can make to people’s lives and living conditions and why it matters to vote in local elections. There is much more that a Labour run council would do to improve the private rental sector in Swindon. If you are a private sector renter, or care about the rights of those who are, please consider using your vote on May 2nd to give us the opportunity to do so. Swindon deserves better.