THE government’s potential lift of the eviction ban would “unleash an avalanche of homelessness” in Slough, a motion stated.
A motion was approved by a majority of Labour and Independent councillors at a full council meeting on September 24 (Thursday) demanding the government extend the moratorium on evictions beyond September to prevent people losing their homes.
The government introduced measures to protect private and social renters from being forced out during the coronavirus pandemic.
Actions from Slough Borough Council would involve writing to the Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick about the extension as well as urging him to keep to the government’s commitment of abolishing section 21 – a legal notice a landlord can give to start terminate an assured shorthold tenancy (AST).
An AST allows a landlord to evict a tenant without a reason providing they are following correct procedure to do this.
The motion reads that lifting this temporary ban will “unleash an avalanche of homelessness, setting back recent progress toward the council’s goal of ending rough sleeping in Slough”.
Members heard as of the end of June 2020, 227,000 private renters, including those in work, have fallen into arrears, and 174,000 were threatened with eviction by their landlord or agent during the pandemic, according to Shelter – who offer people advice, legal advice, and support who are homeless or struggling with bad housing.
Opposition councillor, Dexter Smith (Conservative: Colnbrook with Poyle), said: “Evictions are sometimes desirable. They encourage financial responsibility and they deter anti-social behaviour.
“Even the council uses evictions. Private landlords cannot be denied their rights to this legal recourse indefinitely.
“Rather than speculating on what might happen, as this motion does, we would better to wait until we see what happens and then we get some data about it if there’s areas of concern in the data that should be brought to scrutiny with some proposals on how the council should deal with it.
“That is the proper way of dealing with these matters not supposition and speculation on political point scoring.”
Councillor Paul Kelly (Conservative: Haymill and Lynch Hill) said it would be “beneficial” to get the Slough figures rather than the national statistics to give a “much better and balanced view” of what’s going on locally.
Councillor Christine Hulme (Labour: Central), who read the motion, responded: “We know we have a homeless problem in Slough. We know that will be compounded by any further evictions as a result of this.”
She added: “I would suggest that people understand what happens nationally also happens here.
“Yes, we can collect data on this – but I would rather prevent people being homeless rather than wait until they are homeless and then just count them in the statistics.”
A number of councillors, including councillor Mohammed Nazir (Labour: Baylis and Stoke) – who drafted the motion, had to leave the meeting due to declarations of interest as some were landlords themselves.