Illegal evictions and harassment by rogue landlords are increasing as tenants struggle to pay their rent and some landlords resort to criminal means to remove tenants as the court system falters and some landlords seek to exploit soaring rents, according to Safer Renting.
Figures compiled by the charity from sources including Citizens Advice, Shelter, and local authorities show there were more than 8,000 instances of illegal eviction or harassment during 2022 '� an increase on 7,800 cases in 2021 and 6,900 cases in 2020. It says figures are likely to go up again this year.
Safer Renting '� a tenancy relations service operating in seven London boroughs - estimates that many more cases go unreported and believes that too often, the police side with the landlord or treat it as a civil dispute, while councils rarely take action because they have lost so many specialist tenancy-relations officers during austerity.
'More data needs to be collected so that there is evidence behind the arguments,'� a spokesman tells LandlordZONE, 'while the penalties for breaching the law are not high enough.'�
The spokesperson adds that the organisatoin supports the proposed landlord register but that in the meantime, while Section 21 remains and the court system is backed up with cases, it would expect to see an increase in landlords resorting to DIY evictions.
Safer Renting also points to the spate of criminal landlords increasingly turning to private security companies to get tenants to leave their homes without a court order.
'In the past, criminal landlords may have sent heavies to throw tenants out, but this is the first time in 33 years of working in the private rented sector that I've seen fake bailiffs kitted out with stab vests, radios and handcuffs,'� co-founder Ben Reeve-Lewis (pictured) tells The Guardian. 'Some of them even have vans with police-like livery on the side.'�