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7,000 London households threatened with homelessness

At least 7,070 households in London have been threatened with homelessness after being issued with a section 21 eviction notice, since the Government pledged to outlaw them in April 2019. Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Sem Moema AM, said these latest Government figures were a “scandal” and is calling on Ministers to finally push the ban through in the Queen’s Speech.

Ms Moema said that the figures are just the tip of the iceberg, as the Government only record section 21 evictions that have led to the threat of homelessness. Recent research by Shelter has found that almost 230,000 private renters in England have been served with one of these eviction notices since April 2019.

Section 21 evictions, also known as ‘no fault’ evictions, enable private landlords to eject tenants without having to provide a reason, with as little as 8 weeks’ notice. Housing campaigners say that this loophole leaves renters vulnerable to ‘revenge evictions’ if they complain to a landlord about housing conditions, rent-levels or ask for repairs.

The proposal to ban these evictions, as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, went through a consultation stage between July and October 2019.

Last year’s Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s intention to publish a policy white paper on the Bill. This was originally expected in Autumn 2021, but was pushed back. Following pressure from Ms Moema, the Government revealed that it had been delayed to Spring 2022.

In February, Ministers committed to axing section 21 as part of the Levelling Up Strategy missions. However, these missions have a target deadline of 2030.

The 7,070 London households threatened with homelessness between April 2019 and December 2021, due to being issued with a section 21 notice were owed a prevention duty by their local council. This means that the council must take reasonable steps to identify a solution to their housing situation.

Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Sem Moema AM, said: “It is a scandal that the Government’s inaction on banning section 21 evictions has led to thousands of Londoners facing homelessness and having their lives uprooted. Over the last three years, Ministers have had multiple opportunities to put an end to this injustice, but have passed up on every single one. Section 21 can be used as a loophole for revenge evictions, placing yet more pressures on overstretched and underfunded councils. So, alongside a coalition of housing charities and campaigners, I have kept the pressure on the Government to stick to their promise and push through the Renters’ Reform Bill. The half-hearted commitment in the Levelling Up strategy to outlaw no fault evictions by 2030 is not good enough and this must now be pushed through in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech”.