Campaigning Update No. 5 2021

No Recourse to Public Funds risks destitution

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is a condition attached to the visas of some migrants who are living legally in the UK. One of our clients came to the UK on a spouse visa to join her British husband. When the marriage broke down, she went to live with a friend. She cannot return to her country of origin because she has been rejected by her family. She urgently needs help with finding somewhere to live and applying for a new visa. Because of NRPF, she is not entitled to benefits or rehousing, and she is not allowed to work. She faces destitution.

Our Call for Action: Citizens Advice is about to launch a national campaign on this issue. All migrants should have access to the welfare safety net if they fall on hard times. It is unacceptable that, because of NRPF, some people living legally in the UK face destitution, hunger, debt and eviction with no legal way of accessing resources to meet their most basic needs. NRPF must be abolished.

Tenants fear losing homes as eviction ban ends

No fault evictions were paused during the pandemic, but the ban on evictions ended on 1 June 2021. Several of our clients who are renting privately have been told by their landlords that they will be evicted in the next few weeks. Landlords often use a mechanism called “Section 21”, which means they can evict good tenants who have always been up to date with their rents and who are within their tenancy periods (if there is a break clause in the rental agreement) without needing to give reasons for the eviction. Two of our recent clients who face eviction have children in local schools. They fear they will not be able to find or afford new homes near to their children’s schools.

Our Call for Action: National charities such as Citizens Advice and Shelter worry that 100,000s of renters face a cliff edge. We’re already seeing the first cases here in Richmond. High rents in the Borough mean families are genuinely worried about keeping their children in local schools. It is over two years since the then Secretary of State for Housing announced that the government would abolish Section 21 “no fault” evictions. It is now time for the government to act on this commitment.

Inaction on damp and mould causes health problems

We regularly see health problems and distress caused to renters by damp and mould in their homes. Landlords frequently ignore complaints and too often blame tenants’ lifestyles rather than repairing the causes of damp. Clients tell us that some landlords do not recognise that damp causes problems such as asthma, damage to belongings and higher heating bills.

Our Call for Action: Richmond people tell us that it can sometimes be very hard to get Landlords to act. We will continue to support campaigns to increase landlords’ awareness of the health and welfare damage caused by damp and mould. Landlords must provide better and timely support to tenants living in damp conditions.

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