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One in 12 private renters ‘has received a no-fault eviction notice in past year’

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·3-min read

One in 12 private renters in England has been given formal notice to move out without a reason since March 2020, a survey has found.

Some 8% of private renters in England said they had received a Section 21 notice to quit during the coronavirus pandemic, which allows landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason.

While the initial Section 21 notice is only the first stage of the legal process, many tenants move out before the case reaches court, according to Generation Rent, which campaigns on behalf of tenants and released the findings.

The Government has previously extended a ban on evictions enforced by bailiffs in all but the most serious circumstances until May 31.

Nearly a third (32%) of those surveyed also said they were concerned about the possibility of their landlord asking them to move out this year.

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.”

Nearly 900 private renters in England were surveyed in February.

Sue James, chair of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, a newly-formed group comprising charities, think-tanks and housing organisations, said: “Private renters face high rents, poor living conditions and perpetual instability.

“This causes needless disruption to people’s lives: their finances, work, health and their children’s education. Renters need certainty to enable them to put down roots in communities and create real homes in rented properties.

“Having been a front-line legal housing adviser for many years I have seen the difference that good quality, secure housing can make to people’s lives.

“We need to see people’s homes as more than just terms in a contract.”

A spokesman for the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) said: “The pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge for many tenants and landlords.

“Whilst we want to see as many tenancies sustained as possible, the best way of achieving this is to tackle the root cause of many repossessions. This is why the Government needs to develop an urgent financial package to help tenants pay off Covid-related arrears.

“Measures have been taken to protect tenants as the courts now require landlords, when seeking to regain possession of a property, to explain the impact that the pandemic may have had on their tenants. Likewise, the judiciary has made clear that Section 21 notices are not being prioritised when they come to court.

“We recognise the Government’s commitment to ending Section 21 repossessions as part of its Renters’ Reform Bill. That is why we have developed a comprehensive set of proposals to ensure a system that is both fair and workable for tenants and landlords.

“It is vital that the interests of both parties are properly reflected within the Bill.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statement said: “Robust protections remain in place for renters, including longer notice periods of six months and banning bailiff enforcement of evictions for all but the most serious cases.

“We’re committed to repealing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to improve security for tenants and strengthen the rights of landlords.”