Eviction ban puts domestic abuse victims at greater risk – claim

16 June 2020 | Renting

The extension to the evictions ban will compound the suffering of victims of domestic violence and anti-social behaviour.

That’s the view of the National Residential Landlords Association which says the ban means the sector is powerless to take action against tenants committing domestic abuse or making the lives of fellow tenants or neighbours a misery.

According to research by the University of Bristol, 38 per cent of victims of domestic abuse live in private rented housing – that’s a higher proportion than any other tenure. 

The charity Refuge, which runs the Domestic Violence Helpline, has said that there has been a 66 per cent increase in calls to the helpline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In cases of domestic violence, landlords will often end the tenancy agreement and offer a fresh one, for the same property, to the victim independent of the abuser.

The NRLA argues that the ban goes against the spirit of a report by the then Victims Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, who warned last year that “victims of anti-social behaviour are being let down by police, local councils and housing providers.”

And the association is calling for the courts to deal urgently and swiftly with cases concerning anti-social behaviour and domestic violence when they are allowed to begin to hear repossession cases.

“Extending the evictions ban is not without victims. It leaves landlords powerless to tackle the kind of behaviour that causes untold suffering and hardship for many communities and tenants alike” explains Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA. 

“These cases must be given top priority by the courts and their processes enhanced to avoid further delay once they start to deal with possession cases.”

The NRLA says many victims have taken to Twitter to voice their concern since the extension to the ban was announced.

Their sentiments have included: “My sister can’t return to the house she owns because the abusive next door neighbours who rent and have been served a section 21 can’t be evicted – how is that fair?! Meanwhile her mental health suffers.”

“Fantastic. Landlord won’t be able to evict the criminals living below me that are making mines (sic) and my daughters life’s hell. Landlord can’t evict them, police aren’t doing anything. What am I supposed to do now? I own my home I can’t just up and leave.”

“This is a total disaster. I’m living in a shared house with a nightmare tenant. We all want her gone, as does the landlady. Her anti-social behaviour is driving us and the neighbours up the wall. She was due to go on 1st July. I can’t put up with it for another 2 months.”

“Please don’t make this a blanket ban on evictions. Spare a thought for those of us putting up with anti-social noisy and threatening neighbours who, but for these delays to evictions, would have been gone already. Lockdown is like house arrest next to a rave party for me.”

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.