‘Breaking point’: Record numbers of people at risk of homelessness in UK
Record numbers of people living in the UK risk being left homeless due to an upsurge in ‘no-fault’ evictions, a recent government report has shown.
Approximately 6,400 households in England were handed eviction notices from landlords between January and March 2022, the highest number since records began in 2018.
‘No-fault’ or ‘section 21’ evictions are where a landlord evicts their tenants without justification. They are still legal in the UK, although outlawed by many other European countries.
The latest figures mark an increase from the first quarter of 2020, in which 4,740 households were given ‘no-fault’ notices and forced to leave their property.
One Ukrainian refugee family of nine found themselves on the brink of homelessness, after a ‘no fault’ eviction forced them to leave their rented home only a few weeks after arriving in the UK.
They were rejected by fifteen landlords, despite raising over £20,000 in donations through an online appeal.
“We have trouble and money does not solve the problem. We didn’t expect it would be a big problem because in Ukraine when you have the money, you can rent any home you want,” Maxim Henryk, the family’s father, told The Independent.
The UK government is planning on banning ‘no-fault’ evictions as part of its Renters Reform Bill package, first introduced in April 2019.
But, with the cabinet in crisis following the resignation of Boris Johnson and the ongoing leadership race, campaigners worry that the current instability could undermine efforts to resolve the matter.
“It is deeply concerning that thousands are being forced from their homes and must now face an anxious battle to find somewhere new to live, all at a time when rents are going through the roof and people’s budgets are being squeezed to breaking point,” said Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis UK, a homeless charity.
“How much more hardship are we going to let people endure? It’s crucial that whoever becomes our new prime minister in the next month prioritises introducing the Renters Reform Bill, so we can finally protect people from the trauma and turmoil that comes from being turfed from your home at a moment’s notice,” he added.
Approximately 60 tenants living in a housing estate in the southwest city of Exeter were given ‘no fault’ eviction notices earlier this month. The landowning company said this was necessary to carry out ‘essential’ refurbishments, though residents claim their intention is to convert the property into lucrative student accommodation.
Studies by the UK’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have also shown an upsurge in households receiving council support to avoid falling into homelessness, with current figures standing at 74,230 – a 10% increase from the final quarter of 2021.