Campaign for Safer Renting

A mission to strengthen rights and access to justice for people exploited by rogue landlords, making private renting safe for all.

Three original reports revealing what it is to have to live in the ‘Shadow’ private rented sector, what politicians and practitioners can do to change this cruel reality and why our feudal language of ‘landlord’, ‘tenant’ and ‘property’ to describe people’s homes must change.

Our Mission

In the complex landscape of the Private Rented Sector (PRS), reforms have fallen short in addressing the pervasive issue of criminal landlords. 

At Safer Renting, our mission is clear: to strengthen rights and ensure access to justice for individuals exploited by rogue landlords.

We are determined to make the PRS a safe environment for all.

Illegal evictions devastate people’s lives, families and communities.

Current Challenges

The government’s Renters Reform Bill is a welcome sign the need for change is recognised; we celebrate its embracing of the term ‘renter’ in place of ‘tenant’. But private housing providers are still “[land]lords” and the Bill itself omits key reforms without which it’s impact
is uncertain.

  • The mounting problem of affordability is not addressed.
  • The regulatory framework has not been strengthened and may yet be watered down.
  • The resources needed to regulate and enforce the law have not been pledged.

The Bill is making slow progress through parliament and if it is not improved, its claim to ‘reform’ rights might yet leave renters vulnerable to exploitation.

In 2022, the estimated number of
offences under the Protection from
Eviction Act 1977 rose by over 19% to 8,748 – around one every hour – only 26 landlords prosecuted

Criminal Landlords exploit the system and evade prosecution

The introduction of rent repayment orders (RROs) via the Housing and Planning Act 2016 was a step in the right direction, empowering tenants to seek compensation where landlords have committed an offence like illegal eviction.

The Renters Reform Bill is attempting to close a large loophole that denies many renters access to civil redress through RROs, exposed by the Rakusen v Jepson Supreme Court judgement. This is a ‘work-in-progress’ and poor regulation of Lettings agents and the prevalence of Rent-to-rent scams have much wider implications for the justice system.

Illegal Evictions on the Rise

Government does not undertake a national count of illegal evictions; this gives the impression they ‘do not count’. Safer Renting therefore established a methodology for counting illegal evictions, drawing on a set of published data points which allows us to track trends in this – the ultimate theft, which, like domestic violence often goes unseen, behind closed doors. Data published by Ministry of Justice, taken together with our conservative estimate of the number of illegal evictions in the last 2 years of our ‘count’ suggests that more than 99 out of 100 Criminal landlords getting away with illegal eviction.

Inadequate Sentencing Guidelines

Offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 are so-called ‘summary’ offences and attract a maximum Magistrates Court fine of £5,000. This level of fine is almost never applied. Safer Renting has been campaigning for the offences to be ‘indictable’ and for
proportionate sentencing guidelines to allow Crown Courts to hear cases, determine guilt and apply penalties that reflect the severity of offences. We are delighted that the Sentencing Council is now undertaking work and consulting on this matter and may make recommendations to the Ministry of Justice in due course.

Enforcement of the Law – Licensing Private Rented Homes, Insights and Experience from Five London Boroughs

We are in a moment of peril, with backbench rebel MPs calling on the government to abolish selective licensing, using a ‘wrecking’ amendment to the Renters Reform Bill. If the amendment is adopted, this would in practice undo much of the advances anticipated from passing the Bill into law.

Over the last 14 years, cuts to public expenditure have continued unabated. Some local authorities have adopted powers under the Housing Act 2004 to introduce discretionary property licensing and use the civil penalties regime in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, to enforce and raise standards in the private rented sector. These powers allow local authorities to raise revenue to pay for enforcement. This matters, because without enforcement our report shows, there is an epidemic of non-compliance with minimum standards.

Government have long known about the problem of non-compliance and also, problems with their property licensing enforcement framework – yet continue to ignore calls for specific improvements to make it easier for local authorities to adopt and use their powers.

Lack of Access to Justice – impact of the new ‘Housing Loss Prevention
Advice’ Service and yet to prove its worth

Long standing and deep cuts to legal aid, have reduced access to justice for those unable to afford the costly legal process. A recent report showed 40% of the UK population lives in a borough where there are no Legal Aid housing solicitors.

The impact of a new Government-funded ‘has yet to be assessed. Safer Renting is concerned that a combination of very low grant rates and the lack of housing solicitors in many areas may mean the scheme has minimal impact.

Illegal Evictions Perpetuated by Institutional Lack of Knowledge in the Police

This lack of resources has been compounded by an institutional lack of knowledge regarding tenancy rights within the police, the sole institution equipped with the power to prevent illegal eviction. This knowledge gap has led to a failure in upholding the law and preventing illegal evictions. Instead of fulfilling their duty, the police inadvertently assist in perpetuating criminal actions. Safer Renting has had some success working with the Metropolitan Police, but there is no national framework for working with police forces across the country. Safer Renting is calling for urgent reform and leadership at national level to improve the culture and practice in policing housing crime which should be put on a similar footing to that of its cousin, Domestic Violence.

Our Demands

Safer Renting is at the forefront of advocating for essential reforms in the PRS. Our demands, based on our frontline experience and extensive research and campaigns, address critical issues, urging the relevant bodies to take immediate action for the well-being of tenants.

The following demands encapsulate Safer Renting’s commitment to driving meaningful change and justice within the PRS.

The Government should


Place a Duty on the Police

The Government should go beyond granting power and place a legal duty on the police to enforce the provisions of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.


Provide Local Authorities with Funding

Establish a dedicated fund to enable local authorities to recruit expertise and enhance capacity, facilitating the pursuit of a civil penalties regime under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.


Regulate Online Platforms

Impose a legal requirement on online platforms hosting private rental adverts. These platforms should provide clear advice on how private tenants can protect themselves from landlords’ criminal behaviour and actively police criminal activity by disabling offending accounts.


Facilitate Multi-Agency Strategic Housing Plans

Introduce a duty on local authorities to develop comprehensive local multi-agency strategic housing plans. These plans should cover various aspects, including housing options, homelessness, and the regulation of the PRS. Joint working provisions should involve collaboration across areas such as planning, trading standards, and policing to detect and prosecute landlords’ and agents’ criminal behaviour.


Introduce Joint/Several Liability

Amend all housing legislation to introduce joint and several liability for housing offenses, extending responsibility to include the property owner.


End Section 21 and Introduce Longer Fixed Term Tenancies

Remove Section 21 and replace Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) with statutory longer fixed-term tenancies. This should be coupled with a duty for landlords to provide written tenancy agreements that comply with statutory requirements.


Establish a Right to Expert Statutory Advocacy

Introduce a legal right for private renters facing any criminal behavior by landlords to receive expert statutory advocacy.

Local Authorities should


Detect Unlicensed HMOs

Local authorities should adopt targeted means to detect unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). This involves expanding data-sharing initiatives and monitoring all online platforms advertising private rentals.


Enforce Protection from Eviction Act 1977

Work collaboratively with the police to actively enforce the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Pursue prosecutions of offenders in cases of illegal evictions.

The Crown Prosecution (CPS) Service should


Institute Centralised Collection and Reporting

The CPS should institute centralised collection and reporting mechanisms specifically focused on illegal evictions.

The Metropolitan Police should


Better Use Their Powers

The Metropolitan Police should work with councils to make more active use of their powers to enforce the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.


Review Eviction Training

Conduct a comprehensive review of training around evictions to ensure alignment with legal standards and best practices.

It’s not just changing a lock – it’s stealing your home and your sense of safety.

Our Campaigns

Study our impactful campaigns to uncover our findings about the grim realities of the PRS:

Licensing Private Rented Homes - Insights and experiences from five London Boroughs

Roz Spencer and Julie Rugg

A Cambridge House Research Publication

March 2024

Click here to read the full report

Illegal Evictions Count Campaign 2022 Update

Roz Spencer and Julie Rugg

Offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 in England: 2022 update of the annual count

December 2023

Click here to read the full report

Journeys in the Shadow Private Rented Sector

Roz Spencer, Ben Reeve-Lewis, Julie Rugg and Eusebio Barata

A Cambridge House Research Publication

August 2020

Click here to read the full 2020 report ‘Journeys in the Shadow PRS

Safer Renting Guides

For advice and support on private renting take a look at our guides and checklists covering a wide range of topics including illegal evictions, harassment, deposit protection and homelessness applications. Plus our Safer Renting At a Glance Checklist and How to Rent Guide.

Support Safer Renting

Safer Renting is committed to making the PRS safe for all. We believe in collective action and campaigning to bring about real reform in the private rented sector. Your support is crucial in creating awareness and advocating for change.

Share This