No fault eviction court proceedings hit seven-year high

Posted 09 Nov 2023

Alarming news comes as government stalls on banning Section 21  

New Ministry of Justice data, released today, shows between July and September 8,399 landlords in England started Section 21 no fault eviction court proceedings against their tenants – the highest number for seven years.   

With the number of court proceedings resulting from no-fault evictions climbing by 38% in a year, Shelter is urging the government not to further delay the implementation of the Renters (Reform) Bill and the scrapping of Section 21. 

The latest figures also show 2,307 households were removed from their homes by bailiffs as a result of a Section 21 no-fault eviction, the highest number in four and a half years.   

Section 21 evictions are a major contributing factor to rising homelessness because they allow landlords to evict tenants with only two months’ notice and no reason given. The most recent homelessness stats found that no fault evictions resulted in 24,260 households being threatened with homelessness in 2022/23 – up by 23% compared to the previous 12 months. 

The government first promised to scrap no fault evictions in its 2019 manifesto. In May 2023, it finally committed to the policy by publishing the Renters (Reform) Bill but since then the Bill has been plagued by delays. Despite the Bill getting its second reading in Parliament in October, a further blow to renters came when the government announced unspecified court reforms must be carried out before the ban on Section 21 is implemented, with no timeframe given.  

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “It beggars belief that this government is prepared to use cynical tactics to delay the banning of no-fault evictions, while record numbers of renters are being removed from their homes without cause.   

“Renters have waited four long years for the government to come good on scrapping Section 21, to make that now dependent on unspecified court reforms taking place is ludicrous. Renters shouldn’t have to live for one more day with the fear they can be evicted from their home for no reason, knowing that once that notice lands on their doormat, there is nothing they can do. 

“With homelessness at record levels, there’s no excuse for putting the ban on unfair no fault evictions on ice. If the government plans to keep its promises to England’s 11 million private renters, it must give a clear timeline of when it will pass the Bill and enforce the ban.” 

Anyone who is facing homelessness can get free and expert advice from Shelter by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help.   

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

Court proceedings statistics: The government's mortgage and landlord statistics (Table 8) show that there has been a 38% increase in claims issued by private landlords using the accelerated procedure in England compared to the same period in 2022. This is the highest number of accelerated procedure claims in a quarter for seven years (since Q2 2016, when there were 9,330 claims). This data is published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mortgage-and-landlord-possession-statistics-july-to-september-2023 

ClaimsAccelerated procedure (Section 21)
Q3 20226,092
Q3 20238,399
Change compared to Q3 2022+38%

Section 21 Bailiff eviction statistics: The number of households in the private rented sector evicted by bailiffs via Section 21 proceedings is the number of accelerated procedure repossessions by county court bailiffs between July and September 2023. This data is published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mortgage-and-landlord-possession-statistics-july-to-september-2023  

Repossessions by county court bailiffsAccelerated procedure (Section 21)
Q3 20221,792
Q3 20232,307
Change compared to Q3 2022+29%

Homelessness statistics: 24,260 households approached their council and were found to be threatened with homelessness due to receiving a valid section 21 notice in 2022/23. To be classified as ‘threatened with homelessness’ by their council, a household must be at risk of losing their home in the next 56 days (8 weeks). This is 23% higher compared to 2021/22 (19,790). This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/homelessness-statistics  

The eviction ban was in place between March 2020 and May 2021. It reduced the number of cases being heard by the courts and the number of bailiff evictions. Since the ban was lifted, evictions have increased.