Homelessness threats escalated following delayed legislation ban

Homeless Link, a leading homelessness charity, have conducted new research that has found over 80,000 households in England have faced a section 21 notice despite the government pledging to scrap them five years ago. 

‘Everyone deserves a safe, secure place to live,’ according to Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link. However, according to the charity’s new research, this view doesn’t seem to be echoed amongst the Conservative Party.

woman in black and brown coat sitting on bench

Published this morning, the research found that 84,650 households in England approached local councils for support after facing eviction within the last five years. This statistic was discovered even after the Conservatives pledged to scrap section 21 notices, which allow landlords to end tenancies at will with just two months’ notice.

Theresa May, former prime minister of the Conservative party, was the first to announce that this legislation would be scrapped in April 2019, but fast forward five years and it is still yet to be done.

To conduct their research, Homeless Link analysed official data from the Department for levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which showed that homeless numbers peaked between April and June 2023, the period when the government introduced its renters’ reform bill pledging to end the uncertainty hanging over private tenants.

Against this backdrop, Ministry of Justice figures that were released towards the beginning of this year, found that more than 26,000 households had been thrown out of their homes by bailiffs after court proceedings following section 21 notices since the pledge.

Rick Henderson said: ‘It is clearly not right that someone can be evicted from their home for no reason with just two months’ notice. The government identified this in 2019 but its inaction has led to tens of thousands of households unnecessarily facing homelessness.

‘A huge shortage of genuinely affordable housing means when a household approaches their local authority with a section 21 notice, and the local authority has a statutory duty to help them, often all they can do is try to keep them in that property, find them another private rented property or, as a last resort, place them in temporary accommodation at huge expense.

‘Those who the local authority don’t have a duty to support tragically often end up sleeping rough.’

One tragic example of this is Kelvin, whose name has been changed for anonymity purposes. He was living in a privately rented London house-share for three years when one day, out of the blue, him and his housemates received a letter from their landlord saying they were being evicted with no given reason.

‘I was so shocked and upset by what had happened,’ Kelvin said. ‘It really impacted me. All of a sudden, even though I was keeping up with my rent and my bills, I was homeless. I spent time sofa-surfacing while I figured out what to do, and all the time kept working.’

At the time of eviction, Kelvin wasn’t provided with enough time to move all of his belongings out of the house-share before the locks were changed.

However, Kelvin’s story did end on a positive note, as he found a safe place to stay at Your Place – a charity that provides people on the streets with temporary accommodation.

Kelvin said: ‘It’s peaceful and I’m able to focus on my career and getting back on my feet. My keyworker has been awesome; she’s always really supportive and I’m so grateful to have the support and stability that I didn’t have before. But I’ve lost trust in private landlords and things need to change so that this doesn’t keep happening to people.’

Image: Jon Tyson

More on this topic:

Homes England needs to be run differently to be successful, review says

Money, money, money: housing costs are annihilating low-income budgets


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