Generation Rent supporter Shaun discusses the financial and emotional costs of Section 21 'no fault' evictions.
My story begins in February 2020. I was renting in Edinburgh as I was working in Scotland at that time, the global pandemic was beginning to take hold, and we decided as a family that, because the national restrictions and lockdowns could happen at any moment, we needed to return to England to be closer to my two children, who I have shared care of. The commute would be too difficult and we decided to search for a rental property. As two professionals with one child who has severe disabilities, we searched for an area with a school that could match the provision he needed to meet his needs. This was an important factor in our choice of area. I landed a great job working in a regional capacity and we started looking at rental properties.
We viewed several properties in the area and chose our current home as it was ideal for both my children to come and stay and perfect for my family, my partner and stepson. We were only interested in long-term lets and verified this with the letting agent and landlady. We explained that the move with removal costs from Scotland, deposit and rent would cost us more than £4000 and we could not afford to move again soon and a short-term tenancy would not suit us or our budget. We were given assurances that the landlady was only looking at a long-term tenant.
The Prime Minister addressed the nation on the evening of the 23rd March 2020, announcing the first national lockdown. Our moving date from Scotland was the 24th, the next day. We got permission to complete the move and moved into the property that day. We have lived very happily in the property, fully decorated and made some repairs myself as the letting agents have been very difficult with regards to repairs during the pandemic.
Our world was turned upside down on the evening of the 21st January 2021, a Section 21, ‘no fault’ eviction notice was pushed through our letter box and an email and phone call arrived shortly after, informing that us that the landlady was selling up and that we were lucky because of Covid we were being given 6 months’ notice. After a day or two of being in complete shock, feeling completely used, at one point completely breaking down I have considered what section 21 meant. I had no idea how renters were at the complete behest of their landlord and how little protection renters had.
We are now in a situation as a family where we have spent our entire savings moving into our home. And I call it our home because that is what we have made it. I am in complete shock that we are now being forced out for no good reason. We have been the perfect tenants and have added value to the property. We also have our son’s needs to look after. William is a severely disabled child and needs a specialist provision for his education, physical and health needs. If we have to move, we will no longer be in the catchment area for his provision and will have to move him. I can’t tell you how much of a devastating impact this will have on him and his health and wellbeing.
We are now reliant on our local authority to find us a home, an authority that does not have any suitable properties, and we await a point scoring system to decide if we are deemed homeless.
I stand alongside other renters in the private rental sector, I absolutely believe that the section 21 process needs overhauled to protect and give certainty to families over their home. I strongly believe that all section 21 evictions should be halted immediately and indefinitely during the pandemic, security and homes should be protected and the government should abolish section 21 and reset the balance of rights for private renters. I will be campaigning alongside Generation Rent so my voice is heard.