Couple in 60s made homeless after being kicked out of rented Wakefield house
Video report by Helen Steel
A couple evicted from their home in Wakefield say they 'never thought in a million years' they would be sofa-surfing in their 60s.
John Slater - a retired former railway worker - and his wife Anne had lived in their rented house for 11 years.
In February they were served with a section 21 notice; also known as a 'no fault' eviction, because the landlord does not have to prove any wrongdoing on behalf of the tenant.
Anne said: ''It was a shock, we got an eviction letter at the end of February, to be out by May 8th. We never thought in a million years it would come to this. We thought we'd be in there for the rest of our days.
''Today we're staying at mum's, tomorrow at his son's, then at my sister's. We've just got to keep carting everything about."
Anne says the pressure it puts on her 81-year-old mother, also called Anne, is the worst thing to cope with.
She added: ''My mum looked after me when I was little, I said to her now it's my turn. But now the roles have reversed. For her to have to sleep down here is just not right.''
All the couple's belongings are stored in the house - making it unsafe for her mother to go upstairs.
They have looked for rental properties - but they say they are completely 'priced out'.
John said: ''Our rent had already gone up to £900 from £550 last year. Now when we are looking, either other people pip us to the post because they have a bigger deposit - or the houses that are left are £1200 a month, which we just can't afford.''
The couple are not alone - according to housing charity Shelter, the number of no-fault evictions rose by 143% last year. They are calling for more social housing to be built.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “Every eviction notice that lands on someone’s doormat brings with it fear and uncertainty. No one wants to be forced out of their home, but court figures show that’s happening to more and more private renters in this country.
“The chronic lack of social homes means the demand for overpriced and unstable private rentals has ballooned, and more people are being pitted against each other in the hunt for a home."
In Wakefield, latest Government figures show there are 20,055 households on the social housing waiting list.
A spokesman for Wakefield District Housing said: ''Unfortunately this is a situation that is far too common locally and across the UK. We understand the challenges Anne and others who are in a similar position are facing and the impact this has on families.
''The rise in Section 21 evictions, a cost of living crisis and Government initiatives like Right to Buy, mean that there is a growing demand for housing and a limited supply of affordable homes for the people who need them.
''This is a challenge facing all social landlords and local authorities. We are continuing to build more new homes and allocating homes as quickly as possible when they become available, providing homes to those who are in the greatest need.''
The first move to ban section 21s - under the Renters Reform Bill - was made in Parliament this week. The bill, yet to be debated, calls for its abolition.
But the Slater's MP says it doesn't go far enough.
Jon Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth, said: ''Hopefully we can get it improved when it gets debated, but it needs changing. There's now a clause which says tenants can be kicked out if there's any likelihood they could cause a nuisance. Now that is just unacceptable.''
Anne's mother - a retired nurse - said she would continue to help no matter what.
She said: ''It's a terrible situation and it shouldn't be happening. I would give them all my money but it wouldn't be a lot. But I'd give them my last penny.''
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.