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  • Mal McCallion

London police to arrest landlords for illegal evictions

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

In a fresh move, one that claims to safeguard renters in London, police have been instructed to arrest landlords who unlawfully - and in some cases violently - evict tenants.

The new advice will explicitly state that landlords using or threatening violence to enter an occupied home are committing a crime. Renters' rights advocates estimate that approximately 8,000 tenants are illegally evicted in England each year, but only a few cases are reported as potential crimes.

The new guidance, developed by Scotland Yard, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and renters groups including Generation Rent, will instruct officers to "arrest where necessary". Signs of illegal eviction include a landlord changing locks, forcibly evicting a tenant, cutting off gas and electricity, and using threatening and bullying behaviour.

In 2018, Khan identified illegal evictions in the private rented sector as a "major problem", particularly affecting vulnerable renters with little awareness of their rights. Despite efforts to train thousands of police officers, the issue has persisted.

Khan stated: "For too long, rogue landlords have been able to take advantage of the fact that, until now, there have been few protections in place to safeguard London’s renters from illegal evictions.”

Dan Wilson Craw, the deputy chief executive of Generation Rent, added: “Renters need the full protection of the law when threatened with an illegal eviction. Police officers must not dismiss them as civil matters or, worse still, assist any landlord in these criminal acts.”

This is the latest in a raft of measures that have seen landlords put squarely in the firing line of updated protections for renters. How this impacts the desirability of this sector for those seeking to let property remains to be seen - but it's unlikely to attract even more to a sector desperate for additional stock.

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