Government urged to commit to section 21 abolishment

The launch of a new Age UK campaign seeks to give all older renters the security of tenure necessary to feel safe in their own homes.

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Unaffordable rents, shoddy living conditions, and the threat of no fault eviction are putting thousands of older people who rent their homes from private landlords at risk, according to Age UK.

As part of a campaign launch, the charity is calling on the government to give all older renters the security of tenure necessary to have peace of mind and feel safe in their own homes.

According to reports, for older people who do not own their own homes, renting privately is often the only option left.

Referencing figures, the proportion of older private renters is said to have doubled in the last 15 years – with the proportion of middle-aged private renters trebling.

Currently, private landlords can use section 21 to repossess a property without needing to give a reason to the tenant or to the courts.

According to wider Age UK reports, this has resulted in in three-quarters of a million older renters in England living with daily uncertainty.

Rising rents are also leaving one in three older renters in poverty after their rent is paid, compared with just 7% of older people living in owner-occupied homes.

Outlining concerns, the charity has said that someone trying to manage on a state pension has often resulted in missed meals or turning down the heating just to keep a roof over their head.

Through its new campaign, Home Truths: Security for Older Private Renters, Age UK is further calling on people to have their say about the government’s consultation on abolishing section 21.

Outlined in reports, Ian, 69, was a home owner who was forced into private renting when his house was repossessed.

He was “happy and settled” when he received a section 21 notice with only a few weeks’ notice, adding that his flat had single glazing and no heating but he liked it there because he had “good neighbours”.

“I had been there three years when everyone in the block received a section 21 and only a few weeks’ notice to move out,” he said.

“I have a secure tenancy now, and I am so relieved. I feel so much safer, and I can decorate the house to make it my own. I’ve just done my garden. I feel more secure, more at home, and more relaxed. I’m very happy where I am now.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Significant and growing numbers of older people who rent their homes from private landlords are struggling financially and in terms of their health, and the fact that they can be thrown out at short notice and for no good reason simply increases the insecurity they face.

“No one should have to put up with that as an older person – a time of life when a sense of security is more important than ever.

“That’s why Age UK believes it is right that the government abolishes section 21 as it is consulting on doing now.

“Of course, many private landlords behave decently and we note that there are lots of older people among them, but the fact remains that the current law leaves tenants, including older tenants, with too few rights.

“Getting rid of section 21 would achieve a fairer balance within these relationships. We recognise that organisations representing landlords say that alternative legal processes are slow and the courts under-resourced, but that’s a reason for the government to address these deficiencies in our legal system, not to retreat from its expressed intention of abolishing section 21.”

She added: “On current trends, the numbers of older people who rent privately are set to rise very substantially in the next few years, and we have to question whether this is a desirable trend.

“Not everyone wants to or can afford to buy their own home and for older people especially social housing may be a more suitable tenure, offering greater protection and often higher standards too.

“However, with demand so outstripping supply it looks like older people will be heading into the private rented sector in increasing numbers for years to come, and so it is important to make the law fair and that’s what our new campaign is all about.”

The consultation closes Saturday 12th October.

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