Billboards advertising the service on a no-win, no-fee basis have started to appear across London in recent weeks. Essex-based Wentworth Estates has paid for a huge billboard in Newham, east London, promising landlords who sign up with them: “free eviction”.
Another advert in Lambeth from Choice Estates offers “Free eviction advice”, although it also make it clear the service is also available for tenants.
The fact that estate agents are now offering landlords the chance to boot out existing tenants without incurring any costs will outrage campaigners.
The adverts are appearing at a time when the number of people in the capital who have fallen behind with their rent is rising rapidly, partly as a result of the introduction of the Tories’ controversial Universal Credit payment.
Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, Melanie Onn MP, who tweeted the picture of the Newham billboard this morning, said the adverts summed up Tory Britain’s broken housing market.
In a post on her Facebook page, she wrote, “It’s outrageous that some estate agents see money to be made in helping to kick people out of their homes. “For those agencies, the forthcoming rollout of universal credit, and the likely increase in evictions and homelessness, is something to be capitalised on.”
The rollout of Universal Credit, which replaces several benefits – including unemployment benefit and housing benefit – with a single payment, has already forced thousands of claimants into arrears, with councils and housing charities warning that many more will follow in the next few months. The number of people evicted from their homes have risen to record levels under the Conservative Government, with 40,000 evictions in 2015 alone.
Along with Government cuts to funding for charities and affordable-rent housing, the rise in evictions has directly caused the numbers of homelessness and rough sleeping to surge, with 120,000 children in Britain now without a home.