A quarter of tenants have been kicked out of their homes at the whim of their landlords and through no fault of their own, according to new research.
Private renters across Britain lack legal protections from so-called “no fault” eviction where a landlord decides to move them on without having to give a reason.
A survey of UK private renters by BMG Research found that 27 per cent of current and past private tenants had been evicted by a landlord who wanted to sell, refurbish, or change the use of a property, or because of a rent increase.
The most common reasons for tenants losing their home are the landlord deciding to sell up (14 per cent) or raising the rent so high it becomes unaffordable to remain (7 per cent).
With more people turning to so-called “buy to let” mortgages as an investment, tenants are increasingly at the whims of the housing market and the financial decisions of landlords – many of whom have no intention of staying in the market for a long time.
18 per cent of households now live in the private rented sector, meaning an increasingly large chunk of the population – and most young people – lack secure homes, and can be moved on at any time.
With the average house price in England and Wales edging towards £200,000, wages broadly stagnant, and the sell-off of social housing, more and more people have no choice by to rent privately, however.
The research into tenancy security was commissioned by the campaign group Generation Rent. Betsy Dillner, director of the organisation, likened living in private rented homes to a gamble.
“Every time a renter moves home they spin the roulette wheel. They might well get a good landlord who values long term tenants, but this poll suggests that one in four of us will end up with a bad one sooner or later,” she said.
“With increasing numbers of us facing a lifetime of renting, we need to be able to call the place we live a home, and we can’t until the government ends unfair evictions.”
In pictures: Tiny London flats to rent
In pictures: Tiny London flats to rent
1/6 London properties
A "cosy" flat in an upmarket area of west London is available to rent for a reasonable £520 a month, provided the tenant doesn’t mind showering under the bed
2/6 London properties
Located on Castletown Road, the advertisement on Zoopla boasts: "A cosy, single studio located in the heart of London’s fashionable and up-market area of West Kensington, this compact mezzanine includes not only a fully furnished living area including table, chair, wardrobe and chest of draws [sic] but also a personal shower and kitchenette complete with storage"
3/6 London properties
The property is recommended for "students, working professionals and those looking for a thriving London life at an affordable rate"
4/6 London properties
A studio flat for rent in Kember Street, north London was advertised for £737-a-month
5/6 London properties
The 'well-used' kitchen of a flat in Hoxton, which was on the market for £997 per month
6/6 London properties
For only £125 per week you could be the lucky owner of this single studio flat, complete with shower and kitchenette, located between Barons Court and West Kensington
Rights for tenants to remain in a property were abolished by Margaret Thatcher’s government in the Housing Act 1988. Until this point tenants could remain in their home as long as they had done nothing wrong, with extra protections for families.
Last year the Government banned so-called “revenge evictions” carried out in response to complaints by tenants, but landlords can still evict people without giving a reason in ordinary circumstances.
Polling suggests the public would support the re-regulation of the sector, however – including the right to remain and rent controls.
The same study found that 63 per cent of the public believe tenants who have done nothing wrong should have the right to remain in their home, while 75 per cent believe landlords should not be able to raise rent by more than inflation. 51 per cent of the public also say they were not aware that landlords could evict people for no reason.
Progress has been slow in bringing the sector’s rule up to scratch, however. Government MPs shot down a recent amendment proposed by Labour requiring all homes be “fit for human habitation” – claiming it was unnecessary.
Housing ministers also dismissed proposals by the previous Labour leadership to bring in rent controls and longer tenancies at the last election as “Venezuela-style”.
The Scottish Government, led by the SNP, has however brought forward proposals to control rents in areas where they are rising fast and to give tenants more security from being kicked out of their homes.