Nearly 700,000 tenants living in private rented accommodation were given formal notice to move out of their homes without a reason in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic – despite a Tory government promise to end “no-fault” evictions.
The figures come from a new poll by Survation, published today, the second anniversary of the Renters’ Reform Bill being announced in the last Queen’s Speech.
Two years after the initial pledge, renters are still waiting.
The Survation survey found that since March 2020, 8 per cent of private renters in England – which would represent 694,000 tenants – have received a Section 21 notice, which allows landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason, while 32 per cent – nearly 3 million adults – are concerned they will be asked to move out this year.
To support renters in their calls for change, the Renters’ Reform Coalition has been formed – a broad group of 20 leading charities, think-tanks, housing and renter organisations, who are all committed to ensuring that all private renters have a safe, affordable and stable home.
The survey, commissioned by Generation Rent, also found that a further 3 per cent had received a Section 8 notice, which involves the landlord providing a reason for the eviction, while 7 per cent were asked to move out without formal notice.
While the initial Section 21 notice is only the first stage of the legal eviction process, a valid notice cannot be overturned in court. That means most tenants who receive one have nothing to gain by challenging the notice and move out before the case reaches court. Invalid notices can be challenged.
Alicia Kennedy, director of 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.
“And 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.”
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Evictions are difficult for the persons being evicted especially for those vulnerable. Rents are not really affordable in many cities with many struggling and even well paid households are at the limits of food poverty due to the high costs they have to endure. Many of the properties frankly are not fit for habitation either being damp mould infested pits with poor facilities and these are those with Landlord Licences HMOs and flats in West Croydon I have visited are worse then the Norwood saga. Councils not just Croydon when this is notified to them are unable to respond in any reasonable time if they even bother to reply.
However there is also another side to this – many landlords are not property rental speculators and grasping – you can notice those that are quite easily. Quite a few – a majority provide well decorated premises at a good to high standard – many are struggling to make ends meet despite rent as the costs are also high. yes they make a decent profit from good tenants – but 1 dab tenant can put them in serious financial difficulty to the extent that one non payer would mean they themselves are unable to pay their mortgage and be evicted themselves. Many would say thems the risks and they are.
But here is the rub – when a person does not pay at all the landlord is faced with three choices
1. manage the situation if its just a difficulty the tenant has and they can catch up later and have a 10-20% reduction to get back on their feet and run a deficit for a while (this is done so many times by landlords)
2. If the person will not pay anything seek to evict them claiming the money owed usually with asection 8 notice(your landlord needs a legal reason for eviction which they must prove in court.) then court and CCJ etc
3. A section 21 notice for straight re-possesssion no reason required and no fault or CCJ but can be done seperately.
Landlords face a dilemma solely made by the Judicial system and legal funding of said.A section 8 is fraught with cost and may fail or be delayed for administrative reasons so the non payment of rent can get into the 10s of thousands and can be close to £50k plus costs plus renovating damage of premises etc.
Or take the easy route by a section 21 and write off the 5 – 10k lost so far. this takes a couple of months.
Councils only rehouse when the eviction notice is served and a regular occurence (albeit a minority of cases) is for people to not pay and force a landlord to evict.
It is a long road to obtain social housing and when a person does we have seen exactly what that can mean to many.
So in summary it is not just a government promise there are many issues here and that promise when made was laughable as anyone knowing the real situation knew it was unrealisitic and would only be delivered with huge financial outlay. Really the law is already there to mitigate unfair eviction – what is not there is the resource to deal with the levels of cases there are and will always be. So until there is enough effective investment by Government and Councils into building social housing and not just protection for tenants but protection for (reasonable) landlords also and effective enforcement against rogue and slum landlords – and for that we need to look to our councillors and MPs that we elect on all sides of the Political divide. But most definitely not those that have failed so abysmally and are ghosts of the machinery. It is time not just for a renters coalition but an independent review of the whole private and rental system. One that includes Renters, Private landlords and Social landlords, and the justice system and get a plan to deliver housing for all with effective regulation and enforcement for transgressors in place, moving forward.
I suspect that many of the current crop are too busy playing politic’s and my gang is bigger than yours to actually be able to work in co-operation with anything at all.