Housing

Mum feared her family would end up 'living in a tent' after no-fault eviction notice

Monika, from Preston, has backed The Big Issue’s End Housing Insecurity Now campaign after struggling to find a place to live following a Section 21 notice earlier this year

The End Housing Insecurity Now campaign is intended to prevent renters like Monika from facing eviction

Big Issue Group (BIG) launched the End Housing Insecurity Now alongside a stunt which saw a van branded as Rishi's Removals drive around Westminster. BIG is calling on the Prime Minister to protect renters like Monika from losing their home. Image: Big Issue Group / Jacob Drewett at the7stars

A mum-of-four said she feared her family would be “living in a tent” after she received a no-fault eviction notice earlier this year.

Monika, 34, from Preston, Lancashire, got in touch with The Big Issue to tell her story after being given just two months’ notice to find a new place to live when her landlord told her he was selling her home of eight years.

That meant Monika, a former accountant who is now a full-time carer, her self-employed partner and her four children – two of whom are living with disabilities – faced a frantic scramble to find a new place to call home.

The desperate situation, which was complicated by the family’s low income and previous financial problems, has inspired Monika to back The Big Issue’s End Housing Insecurity Now campaign.

The Big Issue is urging Rishi Sunak to protect nine million low-income private renters living in poverty by bringing forward the Renters Reform Bill, which will scrap Section 21 evictions, reform universal credit and unfreeze local housing allowance rates.

“All in all, it was quite hard for us because for two and a half months, we’ve been in constant stress,” said Monika.

“We didn’t know what we were doing, where we were going to go, what we were going to do, we actually thought we could be sleeping somewhere in a tent to be honest so we’ve been preparing for the hardest bit.”

Monika’s relationship with her landlord was good until a year ago. He took the property off the managing agents so Monika and her family wouldn’t have to pay extra rent to cover the cost. He also allowed her to source her own maintenance workers to fix small issues.

While the family were paying £550 a month when they first rented the property, the landlord later agreed to drop the rent to £500 a month.

But issues started to arise when he wanted to raise the rent to £750 a month a year ago when Monika objected due to the lack of maintenance on the property.

“What he never wanted to do was any of the bigger works,” she said.

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Previously she had struggled to convince her landlord to replace the old boiler and that came to a head earlier this year.

“The boiler was knackered again and we asked the landlord to come and fix it because our plumber couldn’t do it,” said Monika.

“He basically said to us: “Can you move out because I want to sell the property? I don’t want to be renting anymore.”

The family of six were already sharing a two-bedroom bungalow and full-time carer Monika and her self-employed partner were facing the difficult prospect of finding a suitable home to live in the face of rising rents. Monika added that she has been waiting for social housing for eight years. 

So they decided to call the landlord’s bluff.

“We said to him, ‘Look, if you want us out, you need to give us a Section 21. Because we don’t go, we have nowhere to go.’ We hoped that is going to maybe speed up the process, maybe not. I don’t know what we hoped for really,” said Monika.

“We thought he would just say, ‘You know, what? You’ve rented for so long, just leave it.’

“But we had the Section 21 issued. And from that point, there was no communication between us and the landlord at all.”

The eviction notice was issued in May, meaning the family had a two-month notice period to find somewhere else to live.

The family’s low income and past financial issues, which included a previous county court  judgement, meant there were not many options to choose from. Most letting agents they dealt with required a guarantor, which also proved a stumbling block.

“I think it’s really unfair that the rental market has shot up really badly. I think many people can’t afford it,” said Monika.

“That’s why people are turning to social housing and obviously there is a lack of that. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

The Conservative government first pledged to scrap Section 21 evictions, also known as no-fault evictions, back in April 2019. The eviction method allows landlords to evict a tenant without giving a reason and is considered a leading driver of homelessness.

It took until last year for ministers to announce the Renters Reform Bill – the legislation which will axe them – and it was only introduced to parliament in May.

Since then, renters have been waiting for the bill to continue its progress through the House of Commons, with no sign of a second reading where MPs will get the chance to debate it for a first time.

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Monika has backed The Big Issue’s campaign and urged the government to axe Section 21 evictions for good.

“I’m hoping it is going to be scrapped, especially for other people, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, especially for somebody who has been renting for a very long time,” she said.

“It’s basically your home and then you need to be out within two months. It’s a bit of a shock.

“I understand the point of landlords. Our landlord was old and he wanted to sell to leave something for his children before something happens to him.

“But it’s not fair to long-term tenants to be put in that situation.”

Monika and her family recently moved into a new property – but the insecurity of renting means she could soon be facing more upheaval in the months ahead.

“Luckily, we’ve actually managed to find a place. I was over the moon but it’s not a great place,” said Monika.

“We are one of the lucky ones that found a place to stay, although it’s a temporary one and we might be in the same situation in six months.”

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?

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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