Tenants over-55 hit with a no-fault eviction notice every 16 minutes

Posted 06 Sep 2023

Tenants over-55 hit with a no-fault eviction notice every 16 minutes

Shelter wants Section 21 scrapped as nearly three in ten older renters fear eviction

In England, a no-fault eviction notice drops through the letterbox of an older private renter every 16 minutes, new research from Shelter reveals. 

The housing charity’s alarming research, conducted by YouGov and funded by The Co-operative Bank, shines a spotlight on the struggle older renters face in keeping a roof over their heads. Nearly three in ten (28%) private tenants over the age of 55 – which equates to 400,000 people - live in fear of being evicted by their landlord.  

People who receive Section 21 notices have only two months to move out and their landlords do not have to give a reason for evicting them. But a third of all private renters (34%) say, the last time they moved, it took them longer than two months to find a new privately rented home.  

Now that Parliament is back from its summer break, Shelter is urging the government to finally scrap no-fault evictions and protect at-risk renters from the threat of Section 21.  

Shelter warns delays to the Renters (Reform) Bill are harming the health of thousands of older tenants. Research from Shelter and The Co-operative Bank found that a quarter (25%) of renters aged over 55 say worrying about eviction is negatively impacting their mental or physical health, while one in four (24%) said housing problems or worries had made them feel physically sick in the past year.  

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. Nearly one fifth (19%) of adult private renters in England are over 55 - this up by 31% in the past decade. 

Shelter is calling on the government 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.”   

CASE STUDY:Jeanette, 64, moved from Banbury to East Sussex three years ago, after receiving a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice from her previous landlord. She was hit with her second no-fault eviction in July, which has seriously impacted her health, and left her facing the very real threat of homelessness once her notice expires in September. Jeanette’s landlord also runs a business from the bottom of her garden, with strangers coming and going through her garden. This has made Jeanette’s anxiety worse and made her afraid to leave the house.     

Jeanette 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.  

“I’ve been looking for somewhere else. I viewed one place which met all my needs and said I’ll take it. They said I could have it if I paid six months up front, which came to £7,200 plus 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.” 

Nick Slape, Chief Executive Officer at The Co-operative Bank, said: “Fighting inequality across the UK is extremely important to our customers, and that’s why we’re campaigning for better rights for renters alongside Shelter. 

“We know the private rented system in this country needs urgent reform and this new research shows just how desperate the situation has become.  

“Together with our partner Shelter we are calling on the government to prioritise the Renters (Reform) Bill now, to protect tenants across the country and deliver lasting change.” 

Anyone who is worried about losing their home can contact Shelter for free and expert advice by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help.  


Notes to editors:

About the Research: Figures about older renter’s experience of private renting are from a YouGov survey for Shelter of 4,023 private renting adults (18+) in England, of whom 875 were aged 55+. The survey was conducted online between 14th July – 16th August 2023, and the results were weighted to be representative of private renters. Population calculations have been done independently by Shelter using English Housing Survey data. 

Data relating to older renters: 

Question% of Older renters Number of older renters 
Older renters who fear they might be evicted/asked to leave by their landlord 28% 400,000 
Older renters who say worrying about being evicted has negatively affected their mental or physical health 25% 360,000
Older renters whose mental health has been affected due to their landlord not dealing with repairs and poor conditions in their property in the last 5 years. 13% 189,000 
Question % all renters Number of renters 
Thinking about the last time you moved, how long did it take you to find and move into your new privately rented home? [Net answering more than 2 months] 34% 2,800,000

Section 21 rate figures are based on a YouGov survey for Shelter of 15,155 adults, including 1,910 Private Renters in England, of which 341 were aged 55+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 30th June. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Population figures have been calculated independently by Shelter using English Housing Survey data. The rate older private renters are served a Section 21 notice per day is based on the following question: When was the last time, if at all, you received a section 21 notice that you would need to leave your home?  Based on the response to this question, 7% of older private were aware that they have received a Section 21 notice within the past 3 years. Shelter calculations using the number of older renters living in the private rented sector derived from the English Housing Survey demonstrates this is equivalent to a daily rate of 90 older renters, or one every 16 minutes.  

Figures for the proportion of private renters aged 55+ are from the English Housing Survey. In 2021-22 19.1% of HRPs (household reference persons) in the private rented sector were aged 55+, compared to 14.6% in 2011-12 (EHS, Annex table 1.3). 

About Shelter: Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home and fight the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and society. Shelter believes that home is everything. Learn more at www.shelter.org.uk.

About The Co-operative Bank: The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement. The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in January 2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning.