Thousands of charities face eviction due to insecure tenancies, investigation suggests

07 Dec 2023 News

By Shisu_ka/Adobe

Charities across the country are at risk of eviction and closure due to tenancy agreements imposed by local authority landlords, according to new research.

The Ethical Property Foundation (EPF) made a series of freedom of information (FOI) requests to all 32 London local authorities as well as samples to councils across all regions of England.

EPF asked: “How many registered charity tenants currently occupy their commercial premises from the council under either: a tenancy at will; or a lease where the lease term has expired?”

Of thousands of charities that rent from local authorities in London, over 500 had “insecure tenancies”, which means their landlords can evict them with little notice. 

The FOI request therefore finds that thousands of voluntary organisations may be forced to shut down within months unless local authorities provide them with fairer and longer-term tenancy agreements.

Many charities have rented from local councils for years, but as low-cost leases can become out of date, some turn into insecure tenancies.

Outside of London, more than 150 charities across nine English councils were found to have these tenancies, including Bournemouth and Newcastle.

EPF states its research indicates that many more charities may be affected, and more unincorporated groups and clubs.

Antonia Swinson, chief executive of EPF, said: “Small local charities are currently under severe pressure to meet soaring needs in their communities.

“Yet without security of tenure, they are effectively squatters in their buildings: no security, no rights, no future. If they are evicted, grant funding and donations spent on making improvements are lost and they could face complete collapse. 

“It’s a David and Goliath situation. The voluntary sector and local authorities must urgently wake up to the danger these insecure tenancies pose to the future of charities.”

According to EPF, tenancies at wills are also increasingly being granted as long-term lettings to charities without any professional advice and background negotiations taking place. 

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