Shelter: Section 21s issued every seven minutes

A private renter is served a Section 21 eviction notice every seven minutes, Shelter research shows.

The housing charity lamented how the government promised to outlaw Section 21 “no fault” evictions three years ago, but it’s still yet to happen. Details of the ban are expected this Spring.

Nearly 230,000 private renters have been served with a formal no-fault eviction notice since then, which gives tenants two months to leave their home.

However landlords were unable to evict tenants over a 14 month period due to the pandemic.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s appalling that every seven minutes another private renter is slapped with a no-fault eviction notice despite the government promising to scrap these grossly unfair evictions three years ago. It’s no wonder many renters feel forgotten.

“Millions of private renters are living in limbo – never truly able to settle – in case their landlord kicks them out on a whim. It’s a well-founded fear as our frontline services support renters all the time who are scrambling to find a home after being told to up sticks with just two months’ notice.

“With inflation and bills skyrocketing, renters desperately need a secure home as many will struggle to stump up the costs of having to move unexpectedly. To give private renters stability during a time of deep uncertainty, the government must introduce a Renters’ Reform Bill that bans no-fault evictions this year. Anything less would be a kick in the teeth for England’s 11 million private renters.”

One in five of Section 21 evictions have impacted families with children.

Losing a private tenancy is the second biggest cause of homelessness in England.

The cost-of-living crisis could push even more private renters to the brink.

Shelter presented a case study:

Anna, 44, was served a Section 21 eviction notice by her letting agent in March 2022 after complaining about long-standing disrepair in her private rental. She has lived in the property in Manchester with her adult daughter for 15 years. Anna works part-time and is struggling to find somewhere else to rent. She is worried that her and her daughter could end up homeless. Anna is currently being supported by Shelter to find a safe and secure home.

She said: “As a tenant, you have no right to say anything. I’m being kicked out of my home of 15 years for complaining after getting nowhere trying to get problems in the property fixed. I’ve always paid my rent on time. I’ve tried to make this place a home, not just a house we rent. But now we’re going to end up on the streets just because we asked for a broken shower that left us with no hot water for a week to be repaired.

“Every time I call to enquire about a new place letting agents ask whether you claim benefits or have a guarantor. And every time I just have the door slammed in my face. If we can’t rent somewhere else, then it leaves us with no other option but the streets. I’m worried, can’t sleep and don’t feel I can cry anymore. Landlords have all the power, and this isn’t right. There are plenty of people in a similar situation to me and the government isn’t doing enough to help us.”

Comments 2

  1. An emotive piece from Shelter. The term “no fault” evictions is a misnomer. Landlords very rarely evict good tenants (they are hard enough to find in the first place and difficult to replace). Most section 21 “no fault” evictions are not carried out for vindictive reasons as Shelter seem to imply. Section 21 accounts for the majority of evictions. According to the English Private Landlord Survey 2018 (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) “the most common reasons for evicting, asking a tenant to leave or not renewing a tenancy were due to rent arrears (58%) or due to the tenant not caring for the property (45%)”. These are certainly not “faultless” acts on the part of the tenants.

    While rent arrears and damage to property would be grounds for a Section 8 eviction landlords tend to use the Section 21 route as it is a mandatory ground, there is no burden of proof required and no need to go to court. The outcome is not at the discretion of a judge (who for instance might decide in a tenants favour if they stump up the rent arrears just before court). Antisocial behaviour is also difficult to prove as witnesses are reluctant to come forward for fear of reprisal. Section 21 is a catch all. The implication that it is used randomly, willy-nilly, vindictively and on a whim is insulting to landlords. Tenants are not all blameless Angels and Landlords are not all evil demons as Shelter and Generation Rent and the rest like to imply.

    Banning Section 21 will not stop evictions as it does not solve rent arrears or property damage the major causes. It will also make it more difficult for landlords to remove antisocial tenants. Anna’s case quoted by Shelter does sound like a revenge eviction from which she should be protected by current law. Maybe there is more to this case than Shelter have put forward?

    Landlords cannot be expected to swallow tenants living rent free for long periods, smashing the place up or terrorising the neighbours. Nothing will change if Section 21 is banned except the burden on landlords, causing them to be ultra-picky with employment and financial checks when choosing tenants. Landlords who have gone through costly eviction procedures may just sell up (especially as further landlord bashing legislation is coming down the line) as will many others, as their properties naturally become vacant in order to avoid future problems.

  2. I agree with Northernlandlord. Shelter propaganda is well crafted – my heartstrings must be a foot longer after Poly has plucked them so often – NOT. I guess that people like a good emotional story – certainly the media does as it is part of their stock in trade. Shelter have driven so many landlords out of the PRS it would seem this is what her supporters & the Government want so this is what they are achieving. Masters of playing and manipulating statistics and the public go on believing it. Who are the true losers? Tenants!

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