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No-fault evictions driving up homelessness rates in the north of England


The number of households requiring council support for homelessness as a result of a no-fault eviction has increased by more than 50% across the north of England over the last three years, exclusive analysis by Sky News shows.

In the North East, the proportion of households homeless or at risk of homelessness as a result of a Section 21 notice, often called a no-fault eviction, has risen 88%, according to our analysis of new data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

In England as a whole there has been a 18% rise between the second quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2022.

A Section 21 notice allows a landlord to evict tenants on Assured Shorthold Tenancies, the most common type of tenancy in the private rental sector, without reason with only two months’ notice.

During the pandemic this was extended to six months to give tenants more security, but the government withdrew this measure in October 2021.

Why is this happening?

Turmoil in the private rental sector is having a devastating knock-on effect on homelessness.

Half of homeless or at-risk households came from the private rented sector on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, up from a fifth in the second quarter of 2019.

This means it is now the most common reason why people need support from the council. Previously the most likely reason was that family and friends were no longer able to provide accommodation.

Our analysis found a marked increase in homelessness as a result of landlords wishing to sell or re-let their properties.

The number of households receiving support for homelessness for this reason has increased 44% in England and as much as 170% in the North East.

Nathan Emerson, chief executive of landlord membership organisation Propertymark, says that an increase in evictions is the result of the backlog created by the ban during the pandemic and an unfavourable economic and regulatory outlook for landlords.

“What we had was a blockage in the housing system because of COVID and the restrictions that were there,” he says.

Mr Emerson adds that many landlords only make a profit of a few hundred pounds, which means they find it hard to absorb rising mortgage and upkeep costs.

“Not all landlords are big institutional multi-millionaires. The average landlord has one, two or three properties,” he says, “If they have to do one or two repairs in a year, that could wipe out any surplus money for them.”

But Mr Emerson says that the underlying cause is the shortage of housing, which is increasingly making housing unaffordable for many people.

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“The housing crisis is the result of monumental failures over the last 10 or 20 years, where government building targets have not been met and there hasn’t been investment in social housing infrastructure.

“The one area that was stepping up to the plate to cover that shortfall was the private rental sector, but they’re penalising those people and discouraging them from entering the market.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We know how difficult this winter will be and no individual or their family should be without a home during it.

“This government is committed to abolishing Section 21 evictions, protecting 1.3 million families with children from losing their homes, and have provided £316m this year to councils to help ensure no family is without a roof over their heads. We’ve also set aside £37bn in support measures for those struggling with the rising cost of living.

“Our interventions are working – our Homelessness Reduction Act has seen over half a million households prevented from becoming homeless or supported into settled accommodation since 2018 and our £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme will continue the delivery of affordable homes across the country.”


The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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