Housing Minister John Healey today set out plans to give new legal protection to tenants vulnerable to ‘being thrown out on the street with little or no notice’ if their private landlord is repossessed.
When mortgage borrowers have let their properties without the knowledge or consent of lenders, tenants currently have very limited rights if the property is repossessed - which means they could face eviction at very short notice.
Healey said that it is wrong that these tenants face eviction in a matter of days through no fault of their own and is today consulting on proposals to change the law. He said he wants tenants in this position to receive two months’ notice to vacate the property – giving them time to find suitable alternative accommodation.
He also called on lenders to use alternatives to repossession, such as appointing Receivers of Rent to collect rent and manage occupied properties.
The government has already extended the notice given to tenants that a possession hearing will take place – giving them up to seven weeks’ warning. But Healey said today’s proposed measures will give tenants an extra layer of legal protection.
Charities and other advice centres have reported a rise in requests for help from tenants facing eviction because their privately rented home is being repossessed.
Healey has also taken steps to strengthen the protection available for homeowners who lose their home through a genuine inability to pay the mortgage because they have lost their job or had their income cut. The minister published new supplementary statutory guidance for local housing authorities that makes clear families in this situation should not be considered intentionally homeless if they seek housing assistance from their local council.
RICS policy project manager James Rowlands said:'Tenants in the private rented sector are often the unfair victims when landlords have properties repossessed. Extra legal protection will help prevent good tenants, who have always paid their rent on time, from being forced out of their homes . The two month notice period is particularly welcome as it will give people the time to find a new property rather being faced with immediate eviction or a matter of days to find a new home. Government action needs to ensure that tenants are protected from the worst effects of repossession.
'These measures highlight the urgent need for effective regulation across the whole of the private rented sector including the registration of landlords and regulation of all letting agents.'