NationalNewsVideo

Every seven minutes a private renter in England is handed an eviction notice even though they have done nothing wrong, new figures reveal.

Nearly 230,000 private renters have been served with so-called Section 21 evictions since 2019 – also known as a ‘no-fault eviction’ notice – meaning they have just two months to leave the property.

It’s feared the rising cost of living combined with a hike in evictions could make thousands of private renters homeless and worsen the housing crisis.

These types of eviction notices are controversial and three years ago the government promised to ban them.

But they remain in place.

Carl Smith, a musician from north London, received a Section 21 eviction notice just after Christmas. His work dried up during the pandemic and he turned to Universal Credit to help him get by.

"Without any warning, without any prior notice, the notice of eviction came through the door," he said.

"I was in a state of shock. Given my circumstances after having had no work for two years, this couldn’t have arrived at a worse time in my life. I saw it at the time as being potentially catastrophic."

"I’m suddenly forced to deal with the idea of homelessness. I felt the most profound sense of anger, frustration, impotence in a way, powerlessness to do anything whatsoever," he added.

Carl is now trying to find somewhere else to live but he is on a low income and is worried he might not be able to pay a deposit or rent up front.

A quarter of all private renters – around 2.8 million people – have had three or more private rented homes in the last five years and losing a private tenancy is the second biggest cause of homelessness in England.

The cost of living crisis could push even more private renters to the brink, according to Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate.

She said: "It’s appalling that every seven minutes another private renter is slapped with a no-fault eviction notice despite the government promising to scrap these grossly unfair evictions three years ago. It’s no wonder many renters feel forgotten.

"Millions of private renters are living in limbo – never truly able to settle – in case their landlord kicks them out on a whim. It’s a well-founded fear as our frontline services support renters all the time who are scrambling to find a home after being told to up sticks with just two months’ notice."

"This issue is more urgent now than ever. With inflation and bills skyrocketing, renters desperately need a secure home as many will struggle to stump up the costs of having to move unexpectedly," she added.

Mike Stratton from TenantServe, a company that supports landlords, says landlords need protecting too.

He said: "Tenants have a lot of protection, and quite rightly so. Everything is weighed in their favour. But let’s be honest, without the landlords, you wouldn’t have rented accommodation and that rental accommodation is so important to the UK.

"It’s a huge market and it’s going to be a lot of landlords who are going to not want to go into it because they can’t get that property back."

Read more on cost of living:
National debt interest payments rise to record £70bn
The jobs giving inflation-busting pay rises

Follow the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts,  Google Podcasts,  Spotify, Spreaker

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, has defended landlords accusing Shelter of "scaremongering".

"Official data shows that fewer than 10 per cent of tenants who move do so because they are asked to by their landlord or letting agent. Likewise, the number of cases coming to court as a result of Section 21 notices has been falling since 2015," he said.

"The government has committed to abolishing Section 21 possessions, but this has got to be replaced by a system that is both fair and workable for both tenants and landlords. Simply getting rid of Section 21 on its own would, for example, make it all but impossible to take action against anti-social tenants who blight the lives of neighbours and fellow tenants.

"Shelter needs to stop its campaign of scaremongering. The vast majority of landlords do not spend their time plotting ways to get rid of their tenants for no reason."

A government spokesperson said: "Our Private Rented Sector White Paper will set out reforms to make renting fairer for all, including by banning Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions as soon as possible.

"We are also providing a £22bn package of support to help households with rising costs. This includes putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families via Universal Credit and direct support for bills."

© Sky News 2022