Landlords should pay tenants’ moving costs: the case for relocation payments

We polled 2,000 people on their experience of moving home.

Tenants in England can still be evicted with just two months’ notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, but the Government has just finished consulting on abolishing this.

As part of our evidence to the consultation, we asked Survation to poll the public about their experiences of moving house, and found that a majority (58%) believe tenants who lose their home because their landlord wants to sell it or move back in should get financial support for their move.

Most (52%) private renters we asked took more than four days to pack, move and clean at the end of a tenancy.  Due to overlapping tenancies, 40% of private renters paid rent on more than one property at once when moving home. Over a third (40%) of these renters paid rent on two properties for more than two weeks. When upfront costs, deposits (set at 5 weeks’ rent) and time off work are all considered, it typically costs renters £1400 to move house. According to the English Housing Survey, 146,000 private tenants were asked to leave by their landlord in the last three years and were not entitled to any support whatsoever. That means evictions are costing private renters £70 million a year.

We found that homeowners spend more time moving house than renters (with 30% taking over a week) and take longer (2 months) on average to find a new home. However, only private renters face being forced to move through no fault of their own.  The Government plans to change this, but under the new proposed system landlords would still be able to evict tenants who had done nothing wrong, if they wished to sell the property or use it for themselves.

It’s fair to assume that there will always be some circumstances in which landlords will need to use a property for themselves. What isn’t fair is that renters have to pay the price. Unwanted moves are stressful and expensive, so we’re calling for landlords to foot the bill. Renters should be entitled to relocation payments of at least two months’ rent when faced with eviction through no fault of their own, to account for the upheaval and stress of having to find a new place to live. One of the few fees permitted under this year's Tenant Fees Act is for tenants who want to end the tenancy early, to cover the cost of re-letting the property - yet there’s no equivalent when landlords disrupt tenants' lives.  

As well as minimising disruption for renters who are forced to move, this payment would be another safeguard to prevent landlords from abusing their powers. The prospect of paying out two months’ rent would encourage landlords to find alternatives (such as selling the house with the tenants living there) or living elsewhere until the tenant chooses to move out. 

There is nothing stopping the government from adopting this measure as part of new grounds under Section 8 (which would become the only way to evict tenants under the government's proposals). A relocation payment is already required for cases where the property needs extensive refurbishment - it's just never used because landlords can just evict using Section 21 with no strings attached. 

We’ve long argued that tenants should not have to bear the costs of their landlords’ personal decisions – and we now know that the wider public agrees.

Full details of the Survation polling commissioned by Generation Rent in September 2019 can be found here.

Our submission to the consultation "A New Deal for Renting" can be found here.

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