Scarborough Borough Council backs plans to stop 'no-fault' evictions for renters

Cllr Chatt said that shorthold tenancies, are the primary causes of homelessness, distress, insecurity and housing churn for renters.
Cllr Chatt said that shorthold tenancies, are the primary causes of homelessness, distress, insecurity and housing churn for renters.

Scarborough Council has backed the Government’s plans to abolish “no-fault” evictions for renters.

On Monday, the authority also called for action over short-term letting agreements called assured shorthold tenancies, which were described as a way to get extra money out of tenants.

The motion committed the council to taking part in a consultation on shorthold tenancies to make its views clear to the Government

The motion was brought by the Cluster of Independent Members (CIM) councillor Bill Chatt and supported by Labour’s Cllr Carl Maw, who added the amendment over tenancy lengths.

Cllr Chatt said the no-fault evictions, known as ‘section 21 evictions’ due to its place in the Housing Act 1998, and assured shorthold tenancies, are “the primary causes of homelessness, distress, insecurity and housing churn” for renters.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, Cllr Chatt said it was an important step forward.

He said: “At the end of six months because you’ve got an AST, you’ve got to go back to your agents again, sign a document, a piece of paper goes through a photocopier and you’re charged £200.

“It’s a big issue. By removing AST it means you haven’t got to keep going back. While we can’t remove it as a council we have said we would like to see the end of it.”

Scarborough Council introduced a selective licensing scheme two years ago which required landlords in selected areas of the town to obtain a licence from the council. Landlords are then required to meet a range of licensing conditions, including safety checks, and that they have appropriate management arrangements in place.

Cllr Chatt added: “The issue for us is if someone rings up the council to complain that their roof has gone and we go round and visit and write to the landlord and say ‘you’ve got a problem here you need to get it sorted’ the landlord can take exception to that and say to the tenant ‘under Section 21 you’ve got 28 days notice, you’re out’ and they are gone.

“They can replace the tenant, not the roof. Then a new tenant comes in and the repairs never get done and it’s a churn.

“Removing section 21 means landlords can use other clauses to remove tenants which give tenants the right to representation.”

Scarborough Council’s motion had been proposed prior to the announcement from Primer Minister Theresa May that the Government would scrap section 21.

Speaking last month she said: “Everyone renting in the private sector has the right to feel secure in their home, settled in their community and able to plan for the future with confidence.

“But millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification.

“This is wrong – and we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions.

“This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.”