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Most landlords still using ‘no-fault evictions’ government vowed to ban

English Private Landlord Survey also reveals nearly half discriminate against disabled people who need adaptations

Adam Bychawski
27 May 2022, 4.22pm
Unfair rent? A residential street in London

Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo

More than two-thirds of landlords in England who kicked tenants out in the last year used so-called no-fault evictions, new research reveals – as the government continues to drag its feet over banning the practice.

Some 43% of landlords in the 2021 English Private Landlord Survey also admitted that they would not let their properties to people who required home adaptations – even though discrimination on grounds of disability, whether direct or indirect, is illegal, and tenants with disabilities have the right to request adaptations to help them live more easily.

Formally called section 21 eviction notices, after the relevant section of the 1988 Housing Act, no-fault evictions effectively allow landlords to make tenants on rolling contracts homeless without giving a reason.

The survey, commissioned by the government’s own Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, reveals the scale of the problem that the Conservatives have spent more than three years pledging in vain to fix.

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Housing charity Shelter says losing a private tenancy is the second biggest cause of homelessness, and has called on the government to scrap section 21 evictions.

Theresa May first announced plans to do just that in April 2019, and Boris Johnson later pledged again to do so as part of his election manifesto, but the government has so far failed to get the job done. The reforms were promised yet again as part of the Queen’s Speech earlier this month.

More than 227,000 private renters in England have been served a “no fault” eviction notice in the past three years, according to a recent YouGov poll. In total, 13,303 landlords who responded to the survey (67% of those who evicted tenants) had used them in the last year.

The survey also found more than two-fifths of private landlords in England were unwilling to rent to people who received housing benefit or universal credit – which is also illegal under the Equality Act, as it is more likely to affect women and people with disabilities.

Almost half (42.4%) said they would not let to students and more than four-fifths (84.6%) said they would not be willing to accept tenants with a history of arrears.

The survey also revealed that the median age of individual landlords was 58 and that more than a third are retired.

Just over one in five (21%) landlords said they earned more than £40,000 from renting out their properties in the last year; the median income from rent was £17,200, with landlords on average getting 47% of their income from rent.

Last year, openDemocracy revealed that a quarter of Tory MPs are landlords, including the prime minister and seven members of the cabinet.

The government’s spending watchdog said that reforms to the private rented sector have not been effective at ensuring fairness in a 2021 report. More than half of local councils in England and Wales have not prosecuted a single rogue landlord in the past three years, despite a rise in the number of complaints from tenants.

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