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‘Private tenant protection cannot come soon enough’

The Government’s announcement came in response to a campaign by the four organisations – Crisis, Citizens Advice, Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) – after they raised the alarm over the growing number of private tenants who faced eviction because their landlord defaulted on mortgage payments and the lender had taken possession of the property.

This is often with little or no warning to the tenant – and through no fault of their own.

The organisations estimate that thousands of tenants in the private-rented sector could be at risk of losing their homes in this way and have been warning that urgent Government action was needed to avoid a potential crisis.

In response, more than 100 MPs signed an Early Day Motion calling for changes to the law to tackle the problem.

As the law stands, tenants whose landlords are repossessed have none of the legal rights that usually protect tenants from losing their homes without notice.

Advisers report seeing cases where the first the tenant knows about the situation is when the bailiffs knock on the door. 

In some cases belongings have been put out on the street and locks changed. In other cases they have no or very limited access to their things, including personal and valuable items.

In one case a family with nowhere to go had to sleep in a car before moving into overcrowded and temporary emergency hostel accommodation a long distance from the children’s schools. 

The organisations have been calling for a change in the law which would mean courts would have the power to defer the possession to allow the tenant to find other suitable accommodation and are delighted at the Government’s response to their campaign. 

Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: "Private tenants risk becoming the hidden victims of this recession and at Crisis we have been highlighting their plight for months.

"We are delighted that the Government has listened. We now need this legislation to come in urgently. With the recession biting and repossessions soaring, this protection can’t come soon enough."

Citizens Advice Chief Executive David Harker said: "We are delighted that the Government has responded to the concerns we have raised.

"In the last year Citizens Advice Bureaux have seen around 1000 cases where private tenants were facing sudden homelessness because their landlord was being repossessed.

"It is clearly unfair that private tenants lose their right to two months notice to quit simply because their landlord has failed to pay the mortgage.

"The challenge now is to ensure that the new protection is put in place without further delay to stop any more people being fast-tracked to homelessness."

Sarah Webb, Chief Executive of CIH, said: "We are pleased with this announcement to afford tenants, who through no fault of their own could become homeless, a much-needed breathing space in order to secure alternative accommodation. We urge Government to ensure these changes to the law are implemented swiftly and without delay."

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