LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Families uprooted on whims of private landlords

Families uprooted on whims of private landlords

The Citizens Advice Bureau has accused landlords of evicting families “on a whim”.

In new research the charity claims that half of people seeking help from Citizens Advice about being evicted from their privately rented property, despite being up to date with their rent, have dependent children.

It said that “families face an uncertain future in their homes” with some people being evicted because the landlord wants to sell property or because they have challenged their landlord over poor conditions.

Citizens Advice said it helped a woman and her daughter after they asked their landlord for repairs to their privately rented home, as they were getting electric shocks in the shower. An electrician told them it was not safe for them to live in the flat because there was an electric current running through it. When the mother pursued the landlord to fix the problem he evicted them.

The new findings, due to be published on Wednesday, are from Citizens Advice’s latest Advice Trends report which tracks growing problems around renting privately and is based on data from July to September this year. The publication finds:

• 22,000 got help with private rented sector problem, 6% more than in the same period last year.
• 20% more people got advice about eviction for problems other than arrears compared with the same period last year.
• Two in five people receiving advice on a private rented problem have dependent children.
• One in five people seeking help from Citizens Advice for a problem with their private rented home is a lone parent.

Citizens Advice is concerned that more people will face “unfair treatment” by landlords as the private rented sector continues to grow. The number of households renting their homes from private landlords has increased to almost five million.

The charity is calling for protection for people renting from private landlords to be improved.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Family homes are vulnerable to the whims of landlords. Parents and children are being uprooted from their homes, through no fault of their own. The knock-on effect means some families struggle to afford the costs of moving. In some cases prices mean people have to leave their local community and lose their support network of nearby family and friends.

“People face a huge number of different housing problems. A lack of rights for private renters puts them at risk of sudden eviction, even if they are up to date with the rent. The rules for landlords and letting agents need to change to protect families living in the private rented sector. Putting an end to retaliatory evictions is a good place to start.  We hope that MPs support the Tenancies Reform Bill on Friday.”