Housing

No-fault evictions soar in England as situation for renters 'set to become even more bleak'

Government stats show 8,747 people in England and Wales were served with a Section 21 eviction notice between July and September as Labour warns renters will pay a ‘heavy price’ for indefinite delay to ban

renters facing a no-fault eviction

Renters have already been waiting more than four years for the government to deliver on its promise to scrap Section 21 evictions and that wait is set to go on indefinitely after ministers said courts needed to be reformed first. Image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

The number of renters served a no-fault eviction notice surged by a third as the government indefinitely delayed a long-promised ban, new official statistics have revealed.

A total of 8,747 people in England and Wales were served a Section 21 notice between July and September – a rise of 32% on the same three-month period in 2022.

The government has promised to scrap no-fault evictions – which allow tenants to be evicted without a landlord giving a reason – through the Renters Reform Bill.

But, while the legislation featured in this week’s King’s Speech, ministers have said no-fault evictions will only be scrapped after courts have been reformed.

With no timeframe for the reforms, renters face an indefinite wait for the ban, which was first promised more than four years ago and featured in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto.

The Big Issue’s End Housing Insecurity Now campaign has been calling on ministers to scrap no-fault evictions at pace, warning they are a leading driver of homelessness.

We’re calling on the Prime Minister to make sure everyone can afford to stay in their homes and pay for the essentials. Will you join us and sign the petition?

Angela Rayner, shadow housing secretary, said tenants have already been waiting too long and further delays risk more private renters losing their homes.

“These figures lay bare the devastating impact of the Tories’ abject failure to tackle the housing crisis, with a toxic mix of rising rents and failure to end no-fault evictions hitting vulnerable people,” said Rayner.

“The indefinite delay to the promised ban on no-fault evictions comes at a heavy price for renters who have been let down by this government for far too long already, with tens of thousands threatened with homelessness and facing visits from bailiffs.”

Clive Betts, chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, also criticised the government’s indefinite delay. “The government should be getting on with ensuring courts can fast-track claims rather than kicking the can down the road on private rental reform and seeking to make flimsy excuses for it delaying introducing the provision to ban ‘no-fault’ evictions,” he said.

Official statistics released by the Ministry of Justice on Thursday (9 November) showed the number of tenants heading to courts over Section 21 evictions as well as being evicted by county court bailiffs.

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Overall, the number of eviction notices served between July and September rose 13% when compared to April and June while there was a 31% increase in bailiff evictions with 2,307 repossessions.

The number of landlord eviction claims issued to courts increased by 19% to 24,398.

All parts of England and Wales saw a rise in the number of eviction notices served but there was a particular surge in London where 8,014 eviction notices were served – an increase of 35% on the same time last year.

Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, urged the government to increase local housing allowance to ensure low-income renters can afford record-high rents at this month’s Autumn Statement.

“Yet again, we see evidence of the insurmountable pressures placed on renters because of soaring rents and the cost of living crisis. With each eviction notice served comes the stress of finding somewhere else to live. In many cases, there are simply no affordable homes available,” said Downie.

“While the Westminster government reaffirmed its commitment to scrap no fault evictions in the King’s Speech earlier this week, we are seriously concerned that these won’t be abolished fully until reforms to the court system take place, which may take years. Tenants must not be punished because the courts aren’t functioning properly. The government must give struggling renters the protections they need to ensure more and more people aren’t pushed into homelessness.”

The Ministry of Justice statistics only show the number of Section 21 evictions contested in court but, in reality, many tenants choose not to contest the notice and opt to leave their home instead.

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“These figures are just the tip of the iceberg – the vast majority of renters will not fight their eviction notice in court, so the real human cost will be exponentially higher,” said Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition.

“As we approach winter, the situation for private renters looks set to become even more bleak amongst rising rents and utility bills going back up. We know that homelessness services in councils right across England are already stretched to breaking point – further evictions will worsen the situation and mean more people falling through the cracks.

“Amidst this crisis it beggars belief that the government haven’t set a date for when we can expect an end to no-fault evictions. They must do so immediately.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been approached for comment.

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