No-fault eviction bailiff repossessions hit six-year high

Figures showing a six-year high in repossessions by bailiffs through no-fault evictions have prompted campaigners to make fresh calls for rental protections.

There were 2,682 such repossessions between January and March this year, according to Ministry of Justice figures – a rise of almost a fifth on the same period last year.

The number is the highest for any quarter since the beginning of 2018 when there were 2,791 repossessions by county court bailiffs under the accelerated procedure.

Landlords can apply for an accelerated possession order if the tenants have not left by the date specified in a Section 21 notice.

Such notices, known as no-fault evictions, were due to be banned under the Renters Reform Bill but campaigners have criticised the Government for watering down the strength of the legislation by adding an amendment that the courts must be deemed ready before the ban comes into force.

The plan for a ban was first announced in 2019 by then-prime minister Theresa May who described them as “unfair evictions” that allowed responsible tenants to be “uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification”.

But the delay has prompted accusations that ministers have abandoned renters and conceded to “pro-landlord Conservative MPs”.

Baroness Swinburne said the Government remains committed to abolishing Section 21
Housing minister Baroness Swinburne said the Government remained committed to abolishing Section 21 ‘as quickly as possible’ (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

She said: “Evictions are rocketing to new heights whilst this government has put the threats of a small group of self-interested landlord backbenchers over the safety and security of 11 million private renters.

“It’s been five years since the Government pledged to rebalance the scales in private renting, and what do we have to show for it? A Renters Reform Bill, left in tatters, which will keep renters trapped in the same hellish conditions they’ve endured for decades, or abandon them to the whims of their landlords and the terrifying spectre of homelessness.

“With the Bill now in the hands of the Lords, peers of all stripes must overhaul this threadbare legislation and deliver the change that renters desperately need. Without serious amendments to give tenants greater protection from eviction after moving in and longer notice periods, renters’ best hope of a stable home will be lost.”

Figures published last month showed that in 2023 some 25,910 people were assessed as needing help for homelessness due to having had a Section 21 notice served on them – the highest number in the six years for which statistics are published on this measure.

Francesca Albanese, executive director of policy and social change at the charity, said: “The Government must give renters the protections they need to ensure that more and more people aren’t faced with the uncertainty of eviction and pushed into homelessness.”

Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “The House of Lords offers a last opportunity to fix the Bill and address our broken renting system – peers must support amendments that give England’s renters the security and peace of mind they have every right to.”

Housing minister Baroness Swinburne told the House of Lords during the Bill’s second reading that the Government remained “committed to abolishing Section 21 as quickly as possible”, but reiterated that the courts must be ready for the change “so that landlords and tenants can benefit from a modern, efficient possession system”.

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