Generation Rent supporter Gemma tells us about the fears of homelessness that come with Section 21 'no fault' evictions.
My family and I have been served two Section 21 notices in two years, resulting in four house moves. This has had a big impact on our family as our eldest is autistic which means that he finds change to be very hard so moving houses so often is very difficult and has had a huge impact on his wellbeing and behaviour. We have to manage very challenging behaviour and support his younger sister, who is registered as a young carer, to cope with the move and to cope with her brother’s behaviour. As well as cope with our own stresses and anxieties.
Our current Section 21 was issued during the Coronavirus pandemic and so we were given six months’ notice rather than two months’ notice, but to be honest this extra time has not really helped. Many of the private rental properties in our search area cost more per month than I get paid, which means that we then wouldn’t be able to afford the other bills, things for the children, food and attempt to save for a deposit on just my husband’s wage. There is also huge competition for properties so we have had to write a short piece about ourselves and why we are moving – even when we say we have a Section 21 and are at risk of homelessness the landlords have chosen other people. Some, three-bedroom family homes are also being advertised as ‘children/pets considered’ – it’s really upsetting to see children being lumped in with animals and also that its deemed appropriate to rent family homes to couples/single people when we are in the middle of a housing emergency. We are now just a few weeks away from the end date of our Section 21 and we still haven’t found anything. We have registered with the local council and have provided lots of evidence, including an assessment of our income, but just when I thought they were finally going to help we’ve been told they now need to do another financial assessment so they can be certain we can’t afford £1500pcm a month in rent!
While I understand that sometimes landlords may have a legitimate reason for evictions, such as substantial rent arrears, damage to the property or anti-social behaviour or have their own personal challenges which means they can no longer rent out their properties, I believe there should be far more support for tenants who have been issued with a no fault eviction this could be with securing another tenancy or financial support as you are expected to continue paying your rent, your bills AND find money to pay for your next deposit/first month’s rent, professional cleaning, removals etc. The news that deposits may be able to be rolled over to a new tenancy is promising but this does not necessarily help with other costs – we estimate that we have spent about £3000 - £4000 on moving house in the past two years. That money could have been in a savings account towards a deposit for a home of our own.
The housing sector is simply not longer fit for purpose and is letting hard working families down.