Government 'failing' tenants

19 November 2009

Family in housing need

The Government is failing private tenants by not including legislation in the Financial Services and Banking Bill which would have protected renters if their landlord was repossessed, Shelter and Crisis have said today.

The two charities are united in condemning the Government for reneging on repeated promises to offer innocent tenants more protection if their landlords are unable to keep up their mortgage payments and are repossessed. This means that thousands of private renters are at risk of homelessness.

As the law stands, tenants who have kept their side of the bargain and paid their rent on time can be forced to leave their home with as little as a few days notice if their landlord has failed to keep up mortgage payments. Often, tenants have no idea their landlord is struggling financially, let alone about to lose their property.

The proposed change in the law would have given the courts the power to delay possession to allow tenants a two month notice period to find a new home.

Ministers have made repeated promises to pass this legislation, and officials have been working hard to develop a proposal.

However, as nothing has been included in the Bill, the charities are now calling on the Government to stand by their repeated commitments and identify an alternative legislative vehicle to ensure this vital measure is on the statute books before the general election.

Shelter director of policy and campaigns Kay Boycott said: 'By failing to pass this legislation Gordon Brown has demonstrated quite clearly that his priorities are with perceived vote winners and those are not vulnerable private tenants.

'New research from Shelter estimates that more than 20,000 landlords had their properties repossessed in the past two years and many more are struggling to keep up their mortgage payments, which leaves many thousands of tenants in a precarious position.

'Any of UK’s population who rent privately, which is 14% and growing, could become a victim of this legislative gap, yet the Government does not seem concerned with finding time on the legislative agenda to protect them.'

Crisis’ chief executive, Leslie Morphy, said: 'The Government has repeatedly pledged to act on this issue, yet it has failed to show the required leadership to introduce the short and simple legislation that is needed.

'If the Government is serious about protecting people from the effects of the recession, then it must honour its promises and introduce this legislation to protect vulnerable private tenants without delay.'