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Older tenants hit with no-fault eviction notice every 16 minutes

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Hundreds of thousands of renters over the age of 55 live in fear of being evicted by their landlord, with a Section 21 notice landing with them every 16 minutes, a housing charity warns.

One in five adult private renters in England are aged over 55, with this number swelling 31% in the past decade.

But a third of private tenants aged 55 and above – over 400,000 people – worry they will be evicted, according to housing charity Shelter.

For those who rent in England, a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice lands every 16 minutes, giving people just two months to move out. Landlords don’t even need to give a reason for evicting them.

However, for those who had moved previously, a third said it took them longer than two months to find a new home and pack up their belongings.

As part of the research conducted by Shelter, YouGov and the Co-operative Bank, a quarter of older renters said the threat of eviction is negatively impacting their mental or physical health.

Meanwhile, a quarter also said housing problems or worries had made them physically sick in the past year.

‘Eviction notice makes you feel like you’re nothing’

In one case, 64-year-old Jeanette moved from Banbury to East Sussex three years ago after receiving a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice. She was then hit with another in July, seriously impacting her health.

She said: “I’ve never been so frightened, even hanging a bit of washing out is stressful. Every time I go into the garden, the landlord asks me about moving out.

“That piece of paper telling you are being evicted makes you makes you feel like you’re nothing. I couldn’t have a say or defend myself in court. It’s a done deal. It’s just not right. I feel like I’m shut in a box and there’s no way out. You don’t feel like the house you live in is your home.”

She found another place but was told she’d need to pay six months rent up front totalling £7,200 plus she would need a guarantor.

“How is someone on a low income and disability benefits supposed to find £7,000 plus the £267 for references? I feel discriminated against for being disabled.”

Protect renters from Section 21 no-fault evictions

Shelter is urging the Government to finally scrap no-fault evictions after first promising to end them back in 2019.

Since then, more than 60,000 court proceedings have been initiated by landlords and renters faced another blow this summer as the Parliamentary debate to make unfair evictions unlawful was not scheduled to take place before the autumn.

Shelter warned delays to the Renters (Reform) Bill are harming the health of thousands of older tenants.

It said “the gross instability” caused by Section 21 no-fault evictions means the rental sector is “not fit for purpose” for the growing number of older tenants who call it home. It wants to make passing the Renters (Reform) Bill a top priority.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Older renters may already be retired or planning for retirement at this point in their lives. They shouldn’t have knots in their stomachs, constantly afraid that their landlord is going to kick them out of their home for no reason.

“We hear from hundreds of over-55s who have worked for decades in search of safety and security later in life. It’s a disgrace that so many are being stripped of a stable home by the gross injustice of Section 21 no-fault evictions.

“Instead of forcing older renters to pay over the odds for often shoddy rentals that leave them sick with worry, the Government must keep its word, and get the Renters (Reform) Bill over the line. Tenants are tired of waiting for a system that makes private renting safe and fair for all.”