Illegal evictions in England have hit a record high,
but less than 1 per cent of landlords are being convicted. Tenants are often thrown out and their possessions stolen in ‘the most brutal of robberies’, according to warnings to renters this week.
8,748 cases involving the practice were logged in 2022, a record high and 12% more than the 7,778 cases recorded the year before. But at the same time, the Ministry of Justice recorded just 26 convictions of landlords in 2022 – 0.3% of the total number of cases that year.
Ben Reeve-Lewis, the co-founder of Safer Renting, a charity that advocates for tenants under threat, said in recent years when police were contacted about a suspected illegal eviction they either refused to attend because they saw it as a civil matter or in some cases ended up assisting the landlord to evict unlawfully.
“If the bill is watered down and if it isn’t backed up with other measures, the situation risks getting worse,”
said Roz Spencer, director of Safer Renting. A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Illegal eviction is a criminal offence and the government is clear it will not be tolerated.
“Through our renters’ [reform] bill, we are placing a duty on councils to protect tenants against landlords who illegally evict and harass them. We are also giving them new powers to issue fines to landlords of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.”
Labour MP Karen Buck said: “Illegal eviction often takes place out of sight, involving violence. It is the most brutal of robberies." Dan Wilson Craw, the deputy chief executive of Generation Rent, said: “Renters need the full protection of the law when threatened with an illegal eviction.'
"Police officers must not dismiss them as civil matters or, worse still, assist any landlord in these criminal acts and assist any landlord in these criminal acts.”
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