How Police and Crime Commissioners can support renters

On Thursday 2nd May, voters across England and Wales will elect Police and Crime Commissioners (or Metro Mayors with policing responsibility).

The candidates who win these elections will have the power to make positive change to the lives of tenants, so tenants should be a part of their campaigns. Specifically, Police and Crime Commissioners have powers to directly improve the safety of renters by addressing police responses to illegal evictions. They also have a powerful voice on the national stage which they must use to demand reforms from the government in Westminster.

Everyone deserves safety in their home and protection from illegal evictions. But the police can be ill-equipped to help in the right way, and can sometimes make matters worse. We need Police and Crime Commissioners who are aware of this issue and willing to stand up and support renters.

Generation Rent is calling on all candidates in these elections to commit to ending illegal evictions through better police training and proper recording of incidents.

In the four years 2019-2022, 4,360 households sought homelessness support from their local authority after an illegal eviction. Because not everyone will be eligible for homelessness support, the true number of illegal evictions is likely to be much higher. In the same period, just 91 landlords were prosecuted under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Illegal eviction is a crime – landlords cannot change the locks, harass or otherwise force a tenant to leave their home. But many police officers lack the training required to recognise an illegal eviction and take appropriate action, as incidents can be mistaken for civil matters. Too often, tenants report calling the police for support, only to have the police refuse to help them – or even assist the landlord to evict the tenant.

Every Police and Crime Commissioner should work with the local police to introduce training to identify and respond to criminal activity by landlords, such as illegal evictions.

Generation Rent is calling on them to:

  • make sure their forces improve training in the Protection from Eviction Act for their officers and call handlers,
  • record all incidents involving landlords and renters, and
  • work directly with local authorities to prevent illegal evictions and prosecute criminals.

The Metropolitan Police, through the Mayor of London’s oversight, updated guidance on this in 2023 and other forces should take a similar approach.


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Individual Advice

Generation Rent can’t offer advice about individual problems. Here are a few organisations that can:

You might also find quick but informal help on ACORN’s Facebook forum, and there are more suggestions on The Renters Guide.