The new renters reform bill could see domestic abuse victims left out in the cold

Landlords will have more power to evict tenants for antisocial behaviour when the bill is introduced.

Landlords in England will be able to evict tenants for antisocial behaviour more easily as part of a new bill that will massively affect the rental market.

Michael Gove will use the renters reform bill, which could be introduced to the Commons as soon as next week, to strengthen landlords’ rights when it comes to dealing with alleged antisocial behaviour. The move is designed to reduce antisocial behaviour and ease landlords’ concerns as the housing secretary prepares to end “no-fault” evictions. But charities warn it could also harm victims of domestic abuse, who are often accused mistakenly by neighbours of antisocial behaviour because of the violence happening within their homes.

Deidre Cartwright, the senior housing manager at Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse, said in a statement: “We welcome the fact that no-fault eviction is ending. But the worry is that by expanding the grounds for landlords to evict people for antisocial behaviour, the government is creating a back door for landlords who otherwise would have used the no-fault route.”

Many of the proposals that will be included in the bill when it is introduced to the Commons featured in Rishi Sunak’s antisocial behaviour action plan, which the prime minister published earlier this year.

They include expanding the definition of antisocial behaviour to include “any behaviour capable of causing nuisance or annoyance” and making it easier for landlords to prove such behaviour in court.

Some are concerned, however, that the measures could tilt the balance of power too far towards landlords. Natalie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, told The Guardian: “We will need to see the detail of these proposals, but we do not want to see landlords being able to claim that tenants are being antisocial simply because they make complaints about them or their properties.”

According to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, domestic abuse victims are four times more likely to have antisocial behaviour complaints made against them, often because neighbours simply misunderstand what is happening inside a household.

WriterChris Saunders
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