Doncaster families threatened with homelessness after 'no-fault' eviction notices

Dozens of families in Doncaster have been threatened with homelessness by landlords using "no-fault" eviction powers since the Government pledged to scrap them.
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In April 2019, former Prime Minister Theresa May promised to abolish section 21 eviction notices – also known as no-fault evictions – which allow landlords to evict a tenant at short notice and without a reason, such as breach of terms.

However, the White Paper which will set out long-awaited reforms to the private rental sector – originally expected to be published this autumn – has now been delayed until next year.

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Housing campaigners say no-fault evictions are unfair and mean people's lives can be uprooted at the "landlord's whim".

Housing campaigners say no-fault evictions are unfair and mean people's lives can be uprooted at the "landlord's whim"Housing campaigners say no-fault evictions are unfair and mean people's lives can be uprooted at the "landlord's whim"
Housing campaigners say no-fault evictions are unfair and mean people's lives can be uprooted at the "landlord's whim"

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities data shows 64 households in Doncaster were at risk of homelessness after they were served with a valid section 21 notice between April 2019 and June 2021.

They made up part of the 30,350 households who needed housing help for this reason across England during the period.

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The number of households threatened with homelessness after receiving section 21 notices more than doubled from 1,560 between April and June 2020, to 3,280 in the three months to June this year.

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The DLUHC said this was likely to reflect the removal in May of most of the restrictions on private rented sector evictions, introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In Doncaster, eight households sought help from the council after being hit with a section 21 eviction notice between April and June, five more than in the same period the year before.

The figures only reflect the number of people who needed help from their council to secure new accommodation, meaning the number of notices served is likely to be higher.

Housing charity Shelter said it was "shameful" to see so many people nationally being served with Section 21 eviction notices.

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Polly Neate, chief executive, said: "The eviction ban was a lifeline for renters during the pandemic.

"Now those protections have ended, we’re worried that thousands more people will face eviction in the months ahead.

"We know from our own services and research that plenty of tenants are threatened with eviction just for daring to complain about poor conditions, and not a day goes by without renters calling us because they are terrified of losing their home."

Campaign group Generation Rent said no-fault evictions are the main reason why private renting is unpleasant for many, and a delay in scrapping them would put more people at risk of homelessness.

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Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director, said: "Renters want long-term homes and reliable landlords, so will be frustrated at yet another delay.

“We will continue working with the government as they develop these reforms, and keep making the case for measures that prevent new grounds for eviction from being abused."

The Government said it was committed to changing laws around private renting.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “We remain committed to delivering a better deal for renters, including repealing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

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“We will continue to engage constructively with stakeholders across the sector as we develop proposals.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.

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