By M Javed (Workers GB Writers Group)
The Ministry of Justice has published a report showing a sharp 143% rise in Section 21 “no fault” evictions. Meanwhile, timelines for these evictions in cases where landlords take tenants to court have essentially halved, meaning more people are being made homeless faster.
It was therefore welcome news earlier this month when law student Rahath Junaid successfully argued in the first case of its kind that his landlord, Shadi Baja, owed him six months rent due to harassing behaviour in breach of their tenancy agreement. The landlord’s behaviour included threats to wrongfully evict Mr Junaid.
The victory is welcome news in Brighton, where community union ACORN called for action on “revenge evictions” and in December 2022 called on councillors to back a motion that would have allowed Brighton and Hove City Council to issue formal notices to landlords to stop evicting tenants in retaliation for complaints about properties. In Mr Junaid’s case, such a threat was made after he asked Mr Baja to fix the washing machine in the property.
Unfortunately, although the motion was initially passed, the Green-led council announced that it would be scrapped. ACORN commented that the move shows that the Green administration “[sided] with criminal landlords over renters”.
Unflattering for the council is the very report that elicited plans to scrap the motion, with the report stating 462 notices to landlords could have been served in the last year to landlords who were trying to wrongfully evict tenants had the motion been adopted in April 2022.
Rather than considering measures to improve conditions in the interests of renters, a defeatist stance was taken in anticipation of non-compliance, as “landlords would be taking legal action to challenge the notices, rather than working with the local authority to make the required changes to their properties”.
This display of cowardice in the face of rogue landlordism by a Green Party in power in Brighton mirrors their recent decision to drop their policy on withdrawing from NATO. Rather than striving to become a party giving workers a real, green alternative, the Green Party are demonstrating their credentials as an aspiring establishment party upholding capitalism and imperialist war. The Workers Party vows to take the side of workers against landlords and bosses every single step of the way.