No-fault evictions soar across Essex

The number of Essex households threatened with homelessness as a result of “no-fault” evictions has rocketed compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In just three months, between October and December 2021, 156 households in Essex were served with Section 21 orders – which allow a landlord to evict their tenant with just two months’ notice, without having to give any reason.

Among the hardest hit is in Colchester where the number of households served with a Section 21 order increased from 14 between October and December 2019 to 31 between October and December 2021.

Thurrock also saw high increases – from six to 21 in the same period.

Across Essex there was a 49 per cent increase in the number of households that were served with a Section 21 order during the same three-month period before the pandemic, according to the latest figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

A household is classified as “threatened with homelessness” if people are at risk of losing their home in the next eight weeks. Local authorities have a legal duty to help families and households to stay in their homes or find somewhere new to live.

In total, 787 households lost their homes in Essex last winter. Now, homelessness charity Shelter is calling for the Government to make good on its promise to ban no-fault evictions by committing to a Renters’ Reform Bill in the Queen’s Speech.

The charity fears the cost-of-living crisis means many renters will be unable to cover the unexpected costs of finding a new home, like putting down a deposit or paying rent in advance.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “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.

“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.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “These figures show the action we’re taking to tackle homelessness is already having an impact – the Homelessness Reduction Act has prevented over 475,000 households from becoming homeless or supported them to settled accommodation since 2018 and we’re building on that success with £316 million funding this year.

“The government is providing a £22 billion package to help households with rising costs and we will bring forward reforms to support renters, including ending Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter