The case of a letting agency which has sent Section 21 notices to all of its tenants was raised in Parliament yesterday.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that GAP Property had sent letters giving every single one of its tenants two months’ notice, ahead of the roll-out of Universal Credit in its area. The large majority of GAP’s tenants are said to be on UC.
The letter, sent to 350 properties, was brandished by Corbyn during heated exchanges with Theresa May.
Corbyn said: “The agency is issuing all its tenants with a pre-emptive notice of eviction because Universal Credit has driven up arrears where it’s been rolled out.
“The letter – and I quote – says GAP Property cannot sustain arrears at the potential levels Universal Credit could create.”
He asked: “Does the Prime Minister think it’s right to put thousands of families, through Christmas, under the trauma of knowing they are about to be evicted because of Universal Credit?”
GAP’s letter to its tenants ended: “This is an extraordinary event that requires both you and us to take extraordinary measures.”
Corbyn told the Commons: “I suspect it is not the only letting agency sending out that kind of letter.”
Corbyn asked May to pause the roll-out of UC.
He said: “Blanket notices of eviction handed to tenants because of Universal Credit are totally unacceptable, should shock us all and bring shame on this Conservative Government.
“Ministers have been told over and over again that the roll-out of their flagship social security policy is causing debt, hardship and homelessness, and this is further proof of the devastating impact it is having.
“The Tories must immediately pause the roll-out and fix these problems that are turning people’s lives upside down.”
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “This letter shows that the Government’s Universal Credit chaos is leading directly to threats of eviction.
“People on ordinary incomes, both in and out of work, are paying the price for ministers’ ideology and incompetence.
“The actions of the letting agent are shocking, but the buck stops with ministers.
“During seven years of failure on housing, this Government has ignored renters with no protection against poor standards, no control of rising rents and no action on constant insecurity.
“Ministers must pause Universal Credit and fix the problems, and act on Labour’s plans to give renters the consumer rights they deserve.”
May said she accepted that concerns had been raised about UC, but she insisted: “What we see is that after four months, the number of tenants on Universal Credit in arrears has fallen by a third.”
She asked Corbyn to pass on the letter to her.
GAP Property director Guy Piggott said it was “great” that Corbyn had raised the issue.
Universal Credit is due to be rolled out in north-east Lincolnshire on December 13.