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Surge in number of no-fault evictions, figures show: 'How are renters expected to live like this?'

The Tories have been warned they face a renter backlash at the general election after new figures show the number of tenants losing their home to a no-fault eviction rose by 50% last year

renters groups campaign for Renters Reform Bill to scrap no-fault evictions

It's now almost five years since the Tories promised to scrap no-fault evictions and there are growing fears the Renters Reform Bill will fail to make it into law by the time of this year's general election. Image: Renters Reform Coalition

The number of tenants losing their home to no-fault evictions rose by almost 50% last year amid warnings that the Tories face a renter backlash at the general election for leaving the Renters Reform Bill on “life support”.

A total of 9,457 households in England saw their homes repossessed by county court bailiffs in 2023 after receiving a Section 21 eviction notice, new Ministry of Justice figures show, up from 6,339 in the previous year.

The number of households evicted in the three months leading up to Christmas also rose by a third when compared to the same period in 2022.

There was also a rise in the number of tents being hauled in front of the courts to face eviction proceedings with claims up by a third from 23,822 in 2022 to 30,230 households.

The surge comes almost five years after the government vowed to scrap no-fault evictions and in that time 26,311 households have been evicted from their rented property.

The Renters Reform Bill is meant to axe no-fault evictions but the bill has made slow progress through parliament and it is no thought that renters will have to wait for court reforms before the government delivers on its promise.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, accused ministers of “bowing to vested interests” over the bill’s delay.

“How much longer are renters expected to live with the threat of unjust no-fault evictions hanging over them?” said Neate.

“When plans for the Renters Reform Bill were first drawn up, they promised renters an escape from an insecure and unjust system that left them in constant fear of losing their homes. But, without serious amends, this bill won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.    

“There’s still time and opportunity to deliver a bill that makes renting safer, fairer and more secure, but the government must grasp the nettle and oppose attempts to water down the Bill from inside its own ranks. When they head for the ballot box, England’s 11 million renters will remember who stood with them.”  

The bill, which is up to its report stage in the House of Commons, was missing from Commons leader Penny Mordaunt’s order of business update on Thursday (8 February).

Her Labour shadow Lucy Powell said the report stage was due to take place in early February but the bill is “nowhere to be seen.”

Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said the pro-renter group is now “very concerned” that the bill will not pass before Britain heads to the polls later this year.

“What a shocking juxtaposition – on the day figures confirm our fears that Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions have seen a huge increase, with all the misery that entails, we hear that the long-awaited Renters Reform Bill is now on life-support after being deprioritised by the government,” said Darling.

“It’s barely believable that against an escalating evictions and homelessness crisis we have a government slow-walking one of the only policy levers they say will address the issue – not to mention that they first promised to abolish no-fault evictions five years ago.”

If the Renters Reform Bill does fall before the vote, Matthew Pennycook, shadow minister for housing and planning, said Labour will scrap no-fault evictions if Keir Starmer is named prime minister.

“The stark rise in Section 21 notices served last year lays bare the devastating impact that the Tories’ failure to abolish them is having on hard-pressed renters,” said Pennycook.

“Nearly 80,000 households have been threatened with homelessness since the Tories first promised to scrap no-fault evictions almost five years ago. Thousands more face the risk of eviction with each and every month ministers refuse to act.”

The Big Issue’s End Housing Insecurity Now campaign has also called for no-fault evictions to be scrapped.

Big Issue vendors recently headed to 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition, backed by almost 12,000 readers, calling on the government to take action to prevent renters from falling into homelessness.

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