FEARS of a looming homelessness crisis appear to be gathering pace - as the same number of households were hit with so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions during the autumn as throughout an entire year before.
New figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shows 15 households in Barnsley were threatened with homelessness between October and December last year after being served with section 21 notices.
A section 21 notice allows a landlord to evict a tenant with just two months’ notice without having to give a reason.
Such evictions were banned by emergency legislation at the start of the pandemic, which was then changed to stop bailiffs entering properties once courts reopened - but concerns that its expiry last May would cause a wave of homelessness cases to ensue appear to have been validated.
Also on May 31, the notice period was reduced from four months to six months for those served notice between then and September.
Although numbers served with a section 21 notice between October and December are slightly lower than the 17 from the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, they mirror the 15 registered throughout the whole of 2020/21.
Between April and June, one household was served a section 21 notice, then from July to September, ten were served.
Section 21 evictions were mentioned in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech which put the renters’ reforms bill back on the table - leading, it’s expected, to them being canned later this year.
Campaigners have called for ‘no-fault’ evictions to be scrapped, particularly amid the current cost-of-living crisis.
Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter, called section 21 evictions ‘blunt, brutal and indiscriminate’, adding: “These vital bills could finally give renters a system that is fair and safe - with the scrapping of Section 21, a new property portal that allows people to check their landlord is decent, and regulation to strengthen the rights of social tenants. But these promises will remain words on page until they become law.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said: “I’ve previously described the Conservative government’s approach to housing as ‘sleepwalking into a homelessness crisis’. That crisis is now upon us, as shown by the soaring numbers of section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices in Barnsley.
“Whilst it is welcome that the Government will finally bring forward legislation to outlaw Section 21 evictions, this has dragged on for far too long, causing unnecessary and avoidable stress for many private rental tenants.”
The recent data also shows a higher proportion of young adults are struggling with homelessness than at any other point last year.
Between October and December, 44 of 196 people - 22.4 per cent - owed a relief or prevention duty by Barnsley Council were between 18 and 24 years old.
That’s higher than 29 of 145 - 20 per cent - between April and June and 43 of 216 - 19.9 per cent - between July and September.
Local authorities have a statutory need to provide prevention or relief duties to prevent people from becoming homeless, or find an alternative if that’s not possible, respectively.
A relief duty otherwise ends if suitable accommodation has been secured for at least six months, or if the person is uncooperative or becomes ineligible for support.
The data shows 99 households were homeless and owed a relief duty, and 97 were threatened with homelessness in Barnsley between October and December.
Of those owed a relief duty, 20 were deemed to be of no fixed abode, while 19 were in social rented housing, 19 living with family, 11 living with friends and 11 in the private rented sector.