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Government data reveals sharp rise in no-fault evictions

The number of households threatened with homelessness due to service of a Section 21 notice to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy was 168.4% higher between October and December 2021 when compared with the same quarter last year, according to the latest data released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

In its quarterly report on Statutory Homelessness, the department said that the rise in cases might partially reflect the removal of restrictions on private rented sector evictions from May 2021, which were put in place to keep people from being made homeless during the pandemic.

In total, 5,260 households in the final quarter of last year were threatened with homelessness due to service of a Section 21 notice to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, compared with 4,500 in the previous quarter.

However, this was also 39% higher than the 3,830 Section 21 notices served in the same period before Covid-19 (October to December 2019).

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A Section 21 no-fault eviction allows landlords to evict a tenant with two months' notice without having to give any reason.

In addition, the data showed a further 31,090 households were assessed as being threatened with homelessness and therefore owed a prevention duty, up 7.3% from the same quarter last year.

Households that were assessed as homeless and therefore owed a relief duty (33,800) fell in the same period by 3.5%. This was driven by an 8.9% fall in single households (households without children) owed a relief duty, according to the DLUHC report.

Responding to the homelessness statistics, Cllr David Renard, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: "Councils work incredibly hard to prevent the tragedy of homelessness from happening, as well as supporting those who find themselves affected.

"The dramatic rise in the number of 'no fault evictions' is deeply concerning, as well as the steep rise in approaches to councils from households in the private rented sector. This is putting additional pressure on homelessness services."

Cllr Renard added: "Councils want to see an end 'no fault evictions' in their entirety and are eager to work with government on a plan to safeguard tenants as part of the forthcoming Renters Reform Bill."

Housing charity Shelter responded to the report by renewing its call to ban no-fault evictions.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Homelessness due to no-fault evictions is up 37% on pre-pandemic levels. These are real people who've been chewed up and spat out by our broken private renting system, and now face an uphill battle to find somewhere to call home again.

"Our emergency helpline is inundated with calls from people whose lives have been thrown into chaos by unexpected and unfair evictions. If landlords follow the process, as it stands they can turf people out of their homes for no reason– and tenants are powerless to do anything about it."

She added: "No fault evictions are blunt, brutal and indiscriminate. England's 11 million private renters have waited long enough for a fairer system - it's time the government brought forward a Renters' Reform Bill and put Section 21 on the scrapheap where it belongs."

Adam Carey

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