After much speculation Liz Truss has committed to banning no-fault evictions in England.
The ban, which will be introduced in the 2022/23 parliamentary session, will see thousands of families saved from homelessness each year, as the ruling prevents landlords from kicking tenants out their homes without any good reason.
Homelessness due to no-fault evictions have reached record highs with the most recent available figures showing more than 70 households faced losing their home each day on average in the three months to March 2022 after being served with a no-fault eviction notice (also known as a Section 21 eviction), according to data published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
Yesterday (12 October) reports circulated that the prime minister was considering ditching the proposed ban leading to outrage from homeless charities and campaigners. Crisis said to do so would be “shameful” and would have caused a “winter of misery” during the cost of living crisis, with thousands more families potentially facing homelessness.
How many families will benefit when the law is changed? Here we reveal how many households face homelessness each year because of no-fault evictions.
What is a Section 21 notice eviction?
No-fault evictions allow private landlords to evict tenants without any reason with two months notice. They were paused at the start of the Covid pandemic but resumed in August 2020. The Conservatives pledged to ban them permanently in England in their 2019 manifesto. Despite speculation, Liz Truss committed to banning them at today’s (12 October) Prime Minister’s Questions.
Households in an assured shorthold tenancy and served with a no-fault eviction notice are classed as at risk of homelessness if they could lose their home within eight weeks. Their council then has a legal obligation to help them stay or find them somewhere new to live, known as a ‘relief duty’.
No-fault evictions are banned in Scotland. Earlier in October the Scottish Government also passed emergency legislation to protect renters from the cost of living crisis by introducing a rent freeze.
In Wales renters were given additional rights earlier this year after the notice period for evictions was extended from two months to six. In Northern Ireland landlords do not have to give a reason to evict tenants if their contract has already ended or if there was never a contract and the tenant has lived at the property for six months or longer.
How many people are left homeless by no-fault evictions?
In total 6,400 households were left at risk to homelessness after a no-fault eviction in the three months to March 2022 – the highest quarterly figure on record and 26.7% greater than the pre-pandemic levels seen during the same months in 2019.
In total more than 66,000 households in England have been left vulnerable to homelessness because of no-fault evictions since current records began in April 2018. Since then, one in every eight households owed a relief duty by their council have been at risk of homelessness due to a Section 21 notice, rising to one in every six in the three months to March.
Annual figures also show record highs in no-fault evictions in England. In total for the 2021/22 period there were 19,790 households at risk of homelessness due to no-fault evictions – 1,600 greater than at the start of the pandemic in 2019/20. Figures for 2021/22 are a 2.1.% increase on pre-pandemic levels of 2018/19, when current records began.
At a regional level the South East had the greatest number of households in receipt of a no-fault eviction notice in 2021/22 with 3,480, followed by the North West with 2,900 and London with 2,870.
What do landlords say?
Landlord organisations have previously opposed the ban on no-fault evictions, and have warned there is a risk of landlords leaving the sector – which, they say, could reduce access to housing for people stuck renting privately because they cannot afford to buy and cannot get social rented housing.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) says there are a range of reforms needed in the housing sector. Chief executive Ben Beadle said: “The supply crisis in the sector must be addressed urgently, while much more needs to be done to root out criminal and rogue landlords.
“Likewise vulnerable tenants can and should be better supported by unfreezing housing benefit rates. The NRLA will continue to work with all parties to ensure that reforms are fair and workable and command the support of tenants and responsible landlords."