First council to back Section 21 ban warns of rent arrears threat

Croydon calls for consultation on Section 21 ban to be expanded into Section 8.

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The first council in the country to back a ban on Section 21 now warns of rent arrears as a looming threat to PRS stability.

At a Full Council meeting in October last year, Croydon became the first council to publicly commitment to the #EndUnfairEvictions campaign, joining Generation Rent, the London Renters’ Union, ACORN and the New Economics Foundation calling for an end to section 21.

Eight months on, Cllr Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, welcomes the government consultation towards that end.

“But if the government is serious about ending evictions where the tenant is blameless, it needs to do more,” said Cllr Butler.

And ‘more’ means a reassessment of Section 8 under which landlords can evict over rent arrears.

“Rent arrears have become a greater threat to tenants since the government introduced Universal Credit,” said Cllr Butler.

“This terrible policy, coupled with the freezing of housing benefit and spiralling private rents, has left thousands of families nationwide out of pocket with no financial safety net.

“Now is the time for ministers to take Universal Credit policy back to the drawing board and protect tenants even more.”

In Croydon alone in the last two years, the council has spent £1.7m of its own money on discretionary housing payments to top up insufficient government funding so families do not fall into homelessness.

Despite losing some 70% of its budget since 2010, the council had to launch its Gateway homelessness prevention service.

This service has supported over 13,000 residents in financial difficulty, including those whose private sector rents have risen while housing benefit levels remained the same for several years running.

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