No-fault eviction court proceedings are up 41% on pre-pandemic levels, homelessness charity Shelter has reported, with new government figures revealing that 5,890 landlords in England started no-fault eviction court proceedings against tenants between January and March 2022.
The number of renters facing eviction continues to soar after the eviction ban put in place to keep renters safe in their homes during the pandemic has now been lifted.
New figures show that:
- 18,626 eviction claims were made to court by landlords between January and March 2022, up by 32% on the previous quarter.
- Of these, 5,890 were no-fault eviction claims, which were up by 63% on the previous quarter and 41% higher than the same period in 2020.
- Claims for eviction for other reasons by private landlords also increased, totalling 6,316 claims in the first quarter of 2022 – up by 11% on the same period in 2020.
Section 21 no-fault eviction notices mean that landlords do not have to give a reason for the eviction and renters have just eight weeks’ notice.
Most renters move out before the end of this notice period to avoid the eviction claim going to court.
As long as the landlord has served a valid notice, the court claim goes through an accelerated procedure where a hearing is not required, and landlords can quickly take possession of the property.
The government first committed to scrap this unfair form of eviction in April 2019.
Since then, nearly 230,000 private renters in England have been served with a formal no-fault eviction notice, according to recent research by Shelter.
This equates to one renter every seven minutes.
Banning no-fault evictions is now more urgent than ever as the cost of living crisis means many renters will be unable to cover the unexpected costs of having to find a new home.
Recent ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures show that half of renters could not afford an unexpected, but necessary, expense of £850.
Yet new research by Shelter reveals the average cost of moving home for a private renter, including deposits and rent in advance, is nearly double that: £1,650.
Shelter is calling on the government to urgently bring forward legislation that will scrap Section 21 no-fault evictions to give renters greater security in their homes during a time of uncertainty.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: ‘It’s alarming that as the living cost crisis rages more landlords are kicking tenants out of their homes. These are real people whose lives are being turned upside down and simply cannot afford to lose their homes right now.
‘Every day our emergency helpline supports renters who are scrambling around trying to find another home after being slapped with a no-fault eviction.
‘But soaring living costs mean many are struggling to stump up the cash for a house move they don’t want to make.
‘While scrapping Section 21 evictions alone won’t solve the cost-of-living crisis for renters, it will at least give them some much needed security in their homes.
‘The government promised renters three times that it will introduce a Renters’ Reform Bill to scrap unfair Section 21 no-fault evictions. Now, it must get the job done as every minute wasted puts another renter at risk.’
CASE STUDY: Ameera, 47, and her four children are facing homelessness after being served a Section 21 eviction notice.
The family have been told to leave their home in Sussex by the end of June. Ameera is struggling to find somewhere else to live that meets her children’s needs and doesn’t have the savings to cover the moving costs.
Ameera said: ‘My landlord served me a Section 21 notice in April, forcing me and my children out from the home we’ve lived in for four years. I couldn’t believe it.
‘My anxiety is rocketing, and the uncertainty of this situation is affecting my children too. There are so few properties available, and my son has to be near his school because of his learning disability.
‘I don’t know how we’ll find somewhere else in such a small timeframe, or how I’ll afford it. With so many costs already spiralling, I know that with my bad credit score I wouldn’t pass tenancy checks or be able to pay for removals or a deposit. This situation feels hopeless.’
Meanwhile, more than one in six private renters in England – equivalent to two million people – were forced to accept poor conditions to find somewhere they could rent, research from Shelter shows.
Shelter’s shocking poll results published this month reveal that millions of private renters have endured dangerous conditions in their current home, such as mould (42%), broken boilers (31%), pests (14%) and electrical hazards (11%), within the last year.
Even worse, when private renters raised a maintenance issue that needed fixing, 17% – equivalent to 1.9 million people – had to wait over a month for their landlord or letting agent to start dealing with the request.
Every day, Shelter’s frontline services support private renters who are forced to live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions because of a lack of regulation.
The charity believes renting reforms are long overdue to help drive up standards.
Polly Neate said: ‘Landlords and letting agents have got away with cutting corners for far too long because renters are powerless to challenge them.
‘Tenants are sick of paying through the nose for terrible rentals because they have no other choice.
‘Every day our frontline services hear from renters stuck living in nightmare situations, too scared to complain for fear they’ll be kicked out. No-one should be stuck living in mouldy homes that make them ill or have to put up with landlords who turn up unannounced.
‘Private renting is broken – and the only way to fix it is by strengthening tenants’ rights so they can stand up to bad landlords and challenge poor conditions.’
CASE STUDY: Nathan, 30, rented a basement flat where the boiler was left broken for 18 months.
During that time, the landlord provided Nathan with an electric heater and keys to another flat he owned in the block for him to shower in.
One day, Nathan was disturbed by a stranger while showering. It turned out the landlord had given Nathan the key to another flat he was renting out without asking the tenant’s permission. Nathan has since moved out of the property.
Speaking about his experience, Nathan said: ‘I called the landlord daily about the broken boiler and he’d always make an excuse about when he’d sort it.
‘That was until his whirlwind idea of giving us the keys to the flat above. When I tell people about it, they might think it’s funny that someone walked in on me in the shower, but it really isn’t. The landlord handed out the keys to someone’s flat to a stranger!
‘Renters have got used to living in terrible conditions because we think it’s normal. I hear cases like mine all the time in my job, tenants just feel like we have to put up with it because we have no other choice.
‘Everyone should have a right to live in a home that is safe and decent. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. It’s high time that the government acted to fix private renting.’
Shelter also commented on the Tory proposal to extend right-to-buy to housing associations.
Polly Neate said: ‘The hare-brained idea of extending Right-to-Buy to housing associations is the opposite of what the country needs.
‘There could not be a worse time to sell off what remains of our last truly affordable social homes.
‘The living cost crisis means more people are on the brink of homelessness than homeownership – nearly 34,000 households in England became homeless between October and December last year, more than 8,000 of them were families with children.
‘Right to Buy has already torn a massive hole in our social housing stock as less than 5% of the homes sold off have ever been replaced.
‘These half-baked plans have been tried before and they’ve failed.
‘Over one million households are stuck on social housing waiting lists in England, and with every bill skyrocketing, the government should be building more social homes so we have more not less.’