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Fall in number needing homelessness support after ‘no fault’ eviction notices

Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·4-min read

The number of households threatened with homelessness after their landlord served them a so-called “no fault” eviction notice has fallen by around half in a year, figures show.

Some 1,920 households at risk of homelessness were assessed as being owed help between October and December after receiving a Section 21 notice, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

This represents 6.8% of all households needing help to prevent them from becoming homeless, and is a 49.9% fall from the same quarter in 2019.

MHCLG said the reduction “will largely reflect the ongoing measures to protect renters during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

These include the restrictions on bailiff enforcement activity, and the extension of notice periods.

The end of a private rental tenancy accounted for around a fifth of all households owed a prevention duty in October to December, down 7.8 percentage points from the previous year.

The quarterly figures show that friends and family no longer being able to accommodate the household has now replaced this as the most common reason for being threatened with homelessness.

Overall, 62,250 households were assessed as homeless or at risk of becoming so and needing help in October to December, down 9.2% from the same quarter in 2019.

Of these, 33,990 were assessed as being homeless.

Homelessness legislation requires local authorities to take “reasonable steps” to try to prevent or relieve a household’s homelessness by helping them to secure accommodation for at least six months.

These duties usually last 56 days each.

The figures for the latest quarter are based on data provided by 308 out of 314 local authorities.

Single males were the largest group owed support, making up 53% of homeless households owed support and 32.5% of those at risk of homelessness needing help.

Single women with dependent children made up the second largest group threatened with homelessness and assessed as needing help – 25.1% of the total.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

In October to December, 35,490 households had secured accommodation for six months or more because of the new prevention or relief duties.

For households assessed as homeless, 41.3% had secured accommodation for at least six months when the 56-day period ended during this quarter.

According to the figures, on December 31 there were 95,370 households in temporary accommodation – a rise of 8% from the previous year.

The MHCLG said the rise was driven by single adult households, which have increased by 45%, while the number of households with children has fallen 4.6%.

It said this is linked to the “Everyone In” initiative, which saw thousands of homeless people rapidly given safe accommodation at the start of the pandemic.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said there is “no doubt” that Government measures have prevented people from becoming homeless.

He continued: “These measures are only temporary though, and for thousands of people 2021 started with an eviction notice looming over them or the constant uncertainty about how many more months they will have to call a single room in a B&B their home.

“As the economic impact of the pandemic continues to be felt, we risk seeing thousands more people in situations like this, being pushed into homelessness and needing support to keep a roof over their heads.”

He called for the Government to set out a long-term strategy to protect renters as emergency measures are withdrawn, and provide enough affordable homes so families are not stuck in temporary accommodation “with no end in sight”.

Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, said it is shocking that thousands of households were threatened with homelessness due to private landlords ending a tenancy, despite protections for renters.

He said this is a warning that “we can expect a further spike” in people threatened with or becoming homeless once the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions ends on May 31.

He added: “The high number of people living in temporary accommodation is, ironically, both positive and gives cause for concern.

“While it reflects the commendable efforts of ‘everyone in’ to protect people sleeping rough during the pandemic, with the potential threat of a third wave later this year it also highlights the acute need for suitable, sustainable accommodation solutions and a support offer for people with no recourse to public funds.”

An MHCLG spokesman said: “These figures show our actions have protected renters from eviction, supported rough sleepers and other vulnerable people, and helped keep them safe during the pandemic.

“Renters continue to be protected, including through six-month notice periods and a ban on the enforcement of evictions, except in the most serious circumstances.

“But there is more still to do, and we will continue to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping with over £750 million funding this year alone.”