A North London council claims banning no-fault evictions would ‘slow down the rate of homelessness’ as it was revealed the plan to do so has been delayed indefinitely by the government. Brent Council is already facing an overspend of more than £13m, particularly due to a rise in homelessness, and the delay could mean that number continues to grow.
No-fault evictions account for 17 per cent of households threatened with homelessness in London, according to data released by the Greater London Authority (GLA). The figures show that 4,240 households across the capital are having to access council services to help find somewhere to live after being forced to leave the private rented sector.
Brent Council recently revealed a £13.4m overspend in its second quarter financial forecast, with the main cause being the housing services department, according to the report. It cites a 22 per cent increase in the number of homelessness applications compared to the same time last year, meaning it has to fork out for expensive temporary accommodation.
Tory ministers have been promising to end the right of landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason since 2019 by banning Section 21 notices, commonly known as ‘no-fault evictions’. They provide an opportunity to get rid of tenants who request repair work or challenge imposed rent increases, with only two months notice.
The Renters Reform Bill, promised in the Tories’ 2019 election manifesto, was debated in the Commons for the first time on Monday (October 23). However, Housing Secretary Michael Gove said it was “vital” to update the courts before the bill could be implemented.
Mr Gove told Conservative MPs that the ban cannot be enacted before a number of improvements are made in the court system, which some landlords use to reclaim possession of their homes. Labour has pledged to ban section 21 evicitons if they get into power.
Brent Council’s financial forecast highlights £4.5m overspend in the cost of providing temporary accommodation, as well as an £8.6m loss of housing benefit subsidy from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as a result of the type of accommodation being used to house the homeless.
An increase in demand and reduction in supply of temporary accommodation has seen costs soar as the council are having to book rooms in commercial hotels – at times outside of the borough. The number of households in temporary accommodation in Brent has increased by 14 per cent since last year, whilst the number of families in Bed and Breakfast hotels has risen by 322 per cent.
Brent Council leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, claims this is putting “unprecedented pressure” on the council’s budget meaning it is having to bring in “spending controls”. The council is set to take “urgent action” to get control of its finances, which it said have “worsened significantly”.
Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Renters’ Security, Cllr Promise Knight, said the council are “deeply concerned” about the increasing number of homeless households in the borough.
She added: “Our priority is to protect renters’ security within a market of rapidly rising rents. Banning no fault evictions would slow down the rate of homelessness but, without the right safeguards in place, it could escalate the number of private landlords leaving the market.”