The end of revenge evictions proves it: there's nothing more powerful than people

The abolition of revenge evictions shows what people can do when they work together.

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This week, organised people won. This week, we put an end to revenge eviction.

Ever since the Tenancies (Reform) Bill made its way on to the Parliamentary schedule last year, people and organisations up and down the country have been pushing parliamentarians of both Houses and all parties to put an end to the practice of landlords evicting tenants simply because they ask them to carry out repairs.

Back in November, the private members bill finally made it to the floor of the Commons. Campaigners across the country made their voices heard by gathering support in their communities, lobbying MPs, and travelling to Parliament to make sure MPs turned up to vote. Unfortunately, due to a parliamentary quirk, the bill was defeated. There was outrage and anger all round.

But, those voices made enough of a noise that the Government had to listen. Within days, amendments were introduced to a new Bill in the House of Lords which were almost identical to the ones in the original Tenancies (Reform) Bill — the fight went on.

The new amendments were passed in the Lords in early March, and arrived on the floor of the Commons this week. After a long and winding road, the bill achieved Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament. It became law.

Throughout this journey, grassroots movements has been at the heart of making sure these changes happened. Together, we put revenge eviction on the political map.

Thanks to the organising and campaigning of a multitude of groups who took action together —  including Shelter, Movement for Change’s Home Sweet Home, Citizens Advice, the GMB, Crisis, Generation Rent and many more — MPs who would otherwise never have turned up for a Private Members Bill turned out for the Tenancies (Reform) Bill debate. They told the stories of how their own constituents had convinced them of the need for change.

When it came back to the Lords, campaigns led by tenants themselves such as Home Sweet Home in Brighton & Hove were cited as proof of the terrible conditions people are forced to live in, and the anger there is at the injustice of inaction. It is the stories of tenants’ experiences which have driven the issue forward.

Finally revenge eviction has been outlawed. We should be in no doubt that this happened because of tenants coming together and taking action on the issues they face. On the ground organising across a multitude of organisations working together, building powerful alliances and national networks. It was because of the breadth and depth of those involved in the fight, and who made their voices heard, that together we influenced the highest offices in the country. We ended revenge eviction because tenants and civil society came together and took action.

 So now, we celebrate. We should all be proud and amazed at what we’ve achieved. Just look at what we can do when we work together. The only question left now is — what’s next?

Martha Mackenzie works at Shelter; Jack Madden is a campaigner with Home Sweet Home, a Movement for Change champaign.