On behalf of the Department, I would like to wish every good luck to the England and Wales football teams. I have just heard the latest update, and I understand that England are leading 4-0.
In line with the Conservative manifesto, we remain fully committed to ending section 21 to ensure that renters feel secure in their homes and are empowered to challenge poor standards and unjustified rent increases. That is rightly a priority for the Government and we will bring forward legislation during this Parliament.
I thank the Minister for her response and echo her good wishes for the England and Wales football teams.
Three years ago, the Government pledged to ban section 21 no-fault evictions and it is good to hear that they are committed to doing so. During this time, YouGov estimates that 227,000 people in England have been served such notices. I recently spoke to representatives from a local homelessness charity who were concerned about the rising demand for their homelessness prevention service. May I push the Minister a little further and ask her to confirm when in this Parliament the Government will put an end to no-fault evictions and what additional support will they be providing to those working to end homelessness?
We are committed to taking forward this legislation, which is why we published the White Paper in June. Our consultation on the decent homes standard concluded on 14 October and we are currently evaluating the responses to it. We will introduce the legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows. I want to give the hon. Lady a personal commitment: I am very focused on the private rental sector and the issues in it, and I am determined that we will reduce the number of non-decent homes in that sector.
In asking my question, I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
The tragic death of Awaab Ishak has highlighted the deadly consequences of poor-quality housing. Many tenants in the private sector face similar if not worse problems with damp and mould, but do not dare to speak up due to fear of being evicted. Is it not high time that the private rental sector is also more tightly regulated and that the tighter inspection regime and penalties that the Secretary of State announced last week should apply to that sector, too?
I wish to give all my condolences to the family of Awaab. Clearly, it is simply unacceptable in today’s world that a young boy can die in that way. I am committed, as I have said, to implementing a decent homes standard and to making sure that the enforcement of it is strict.
We are looking to abolish section 21 at the same time as we strengthen the grounds for landlords to take possession of their properties if they have a good reason to do so—that could be because of antisocial behaviour, rent arrears, or needing to sell the property. The two go in tandem, but it is absolutely imperative that we go ahead with the abolition of section 21.
Later this week, the Department is scheduled to release stats for the second quarter of the year on section 21 evictions. The emerging picture is clear: section 21 evictions are going up. We saw a 26% increase during the first quarter of this year. We are now three years down the track from the publication of the 2019 Conservative manifesto promising to end section 21. I note that the Minister has committed today to ending section 21 in this Parliament, but may I push further and urge the Department to commit to bringing forward emergency legislation early in the new year to end this scandal, working with the Opposition to do so? Will those on the Government Benches accept that, through their inaction, the Department is leaving tenants vulnerable to eviction in the meantime?