No-fault evictions hit seven-year high amid government delays to ban

Ban on no-fault evictions was missed out of King’s Speech

Holly Bancroft
Thursday 09 November 2023 22:17 GMT
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'Government needs a kick in the pants', says Nadine Dorris

The number of landlords pursuing no-fault evictions against their tenants is at its highest for seven years, new figures show, after the government again delayed plans to impose a ban.

More than 8,300 Section 21 evictions, known as no-fault evictions because the landlord doesn’t have to give a specific reason, were taken to court from July to September this year.

This is the highest quarterly figure since 2016 and an increase of 37.9 per cent on the same period last year. Despite pledging to ban no-fault evictions in the Conservative 2019 manifesto, the government has delayed doing so.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter accused the government of putting the long-promised ban on Section 21 – where a tenant can be evicted without reason – “on ice”.

This week, as the King’s Speech confirmed the return of the Renters Reform Bill for the next parliamentary session, the government confirmed that the Section 21 ban will not be brought in until a new court process and stronger possession grounds for landlords are in place. King Charles said in his first King’s Speech as monarch that “landlords will benefit from reforms to provide certainty that they can regain their properties when needed.”

The plan for a ban was first announced in 2019 by then prime minister Theresa May, who described them as “unfair evictions” that allowed responsible tenants to be “uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification”.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice, released on Thursday, also show that 2307 households were removed from their homes by bailiffs as a result of a no-fault eviction between July and September 2023, up from 1,792 in the same period last year. This is the highest number of bailiff repossessions in four and a half years.

The Renters Reform Coalition estimate that 81,439 Section 21 claims have been taken to court since the government promised to deliver a “better deal for renters” in 2019.

The number of landlords starting court proceedings over no-fault evictions has risen by nearly 40 per cent year on year

Tom Darling, campaign manager at the coalition, said that the new figures showed no-fault evictions were “soaring out of control”.

“These figures are just the tip of the iceberg – the vast majority of renters will not fight their eviction notice in court, so the real human cost will be exponentially higher,” he said.

“We know that homelessness services in councils right across England are already stretched to breaking point – further evictions will worse the situation and mean more people falling through the cracks.”

No-fault evictions resulted in 24,260 households being threatened with homelessness in the financial year 2022/23, up 23 per cent year on year.

Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter, said: “It beggars belief that this government is prepared to use cynical tactics to delay the banning of no-fault evictions, while record numbers of renters are being removed from their homes without cause.

“If the government plans to keep its promise to England’s 11 million private renters, it must give a clear timeline of when it will pass the Renters [Reform] Bill and enforce the ban.”

Research from the Social Market Foundation found that bringing in a ban on Section 21 evictions has not negatively impacted the private rental sector in Scotland, which effectively brought in a ban in 2017.

The think tank argued that increased protections for renters does not lead to landlords withdrawing their properties from the rental market.

A government spokesperson said: “Our landmark Renters Reform Bill offers better protections for tenants and gives them greater security to challenge poor conditions in their homes. We are abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and the bill passing through parliament will see this happen.”

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