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People renting homes in Manchester 'at increased risk of eviction', says solicitor

  • Manchester has seen a rise in evictions before tenancy has expired
  • Section 21 orders being misused says Ashwoods solicitor Helena McGee
  • Councillor says government should take action

A Manchester solicitor claims there has been a rise in unlawfully evicting tenants before their contract agreement has expired.

With the gentrification of Manchester turning it into one of the most popular places to live in the UK, private landlords have been accused of raising the price of the property, due to the value increasing and targeting the wealthy people moving into the city who are able to afford the high prices. 

Ashwood’s solicitor Helena McGee said: "We have had lots of issues with private landlords, either unlawfully evicting tenants; changing the locks of doors, kicking them out or issues with housing disrepair where the landlords are not making repairs.

“Plumbing is a big problem in some buildings due to the way the pipework has been constructed, as a result there has been pipes leaking though serval flats as well as no gas or electricity.

Renting, eviction, section 21, housing
Solicitor Helena McGee

 “As the area becomes more popular the value of the houses increase, so some landlords are selling up because they will make a significant profit but doing this cuts out people who have grown up in the area who will never be able to afford a mortgage.”

Private landlords have been serving their tenants section 21 orders, an eviction notice without needing a reason to evict them. The assured shorthold tenancy allows landlords to increase rent and to evict tenants whenever they please.

Manchester resident Mathew Waterful said: “I have a rented property that somebody rents off of me. I am against unlawfully evicting. If the tenant has a contract then I’ll respect it, but if they go against it then they should be evicted.

“I believe that if the value of the property increases with the same tenant I would keep the rent the same, but if it happens when a new tenant comes in I would increase the rent, that’s market forces but I don’t believe in increasing the rent on them.”

Renting, eviction, section 21, housing
Councillor George Jones

Councillor George Jones, who represents Denton West on Tameside council, believes not enough is not being done to support the tenants of Manchester and Greater Manchester.

He said: “My view on unlawful evictions is simple, they are wrong and we need to do more to ensure they don’t happen. Simply we need to inform tenants of the rights they have once they enter a property, I think we could do this by making tenancy agreements clearer and explicit, possibly having a standard framework across the board could help this.

“Of course, we need to take action against the landlords who do take advantage of tenants who maybe don’t know what rights they have or don’t know how to appeal a decision. We must review what action can currently be taken and go further is necessary.

“These kinds of landlords but families unnecessarily at risk and that is totally unacceptable.”

He added: “I don’t think landlords have taken the responsibility they have seriously enough otherwise they would have got cladding tested and replaced if found to be unfit. It’s a moral question as much as a financial one.

“However, government has a responsibility to take action by requiring all cladding not fit for purpose to be removed and proving the funding to private landlords to do it, I certainly except that they can’t do it on their own.”

Councillor Jones said the impact of coronavirus on tenants was a matter for national government. “It’s not something that we could really action at local level. However, I personally do think that the government have overlooked renters in the measures they have taken.

“The government offered home owners suspended mortgage payments for three months and I think this kind of offer needs to be extended to renters as a matter of urgency”.

Councillor Jones does, however, admit the need for regeneration. “The need to regenerate areas is also really important and bringing forward investment is important in an areas development otherwise it will simply get left behind.

“But it has to be the right kind of regeneration, clearly allowing homes to be built in area that a vast majority of people in that area wouldn’t be able to afford creates a problem and does put a strain on that community Identity.”

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