700,000 private renters served ‘no-fault’ eviction notices during pandemic

As many as 694,000 private renters have been served with a Section 21 notice in the last year, a survey by Generation Rent has found.
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One in 12 private renters has been served with “no-fault” eviction notices during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite government promises to abolish them.

The survey, commissioned by renters’ group Generation Rent, found that as many as 694,000 private tenants have been served with a Section 21 notice during the pandemic, which allows landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason.

One in three private renters – representing three million adults in England – has also expressed fears that they will be asked to move out in the next year.

Generation Rent said: “A Section 21 notice pulls the rug out from under you. As long as the landlord serves it correctly, you have to move out. That means very few tenants challenge it in court.

“Because landlords don’t need a reason for eviction, it also means that many tenants live in fear of losing their home and families throughout England have no confidence to put down roots in their local area.

“Renters have been waiting two years for the government to make good on its promise to ban these unfair evictions. If it weren’t for Section 21, 700,000 renters would not have faced an unwanted move during a pandemic and millions more would have confidence to plan their lives.”

The survey, carried out by Surveyation, received responses from a total of 1008 UK residents aged 18+ who are living in private rented accommodation, including 884 people in England.

It found that 8% of renters had been served with a Section 21 notice, representing 694,000 tenants across England. A further 3% said they’d received a section 8 notice, which involves the landlord providing a reason, while 7% were asked to move out without formal notice.

Nearly a third of those surveyed (32%) also said they were concerned about the possibility of their landlord asking them to move out this year.

The publication of the research comes two years after the government announced its plans to scrap Section 21 evictions in a new renters’ reform bill, mentioned in the 2019 Queen’s Speech. However, this new legislation has not yet been delivered.

The Renters’ Reform Coalition, a new group of 21 charities, think tanks, renters and housing associations including Crisis, Shelter and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has launched today to pressure the government to redesign the rental system.

Sue James, chair of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “Private renters face high rents, poor living conditions and perpetual instability. This causes needless disruption to people’s lives: their finances, work, health and their children’s education. Renters need certainty to enable them to put down roots in communities and create real homes in rented properties.

“Having been a front-line legal housing advisor for many years I have seen the difference that good quality, secure housing can make to people’s lives. We need to see people’s homes as more than just terms in a contract.

“The breadth of organisations that have come together to form the coalition highlights the importance of this issue. It is essential that reform of private renting is a key part of the government’s plans to improve the housing system.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Robust protections remain in place for renters, including longer notice periods of six months and banning bailiff enforcement of evictions for all but the most serious cases.

“We’re committed to repealing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to improve security for tenants and strengthen the rights of landlords.”

Image credit: Pixabay

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