'I don't want to wake up some days': The devastating impact of the rise in no fault evictions

  • ITV News Central Reporter Ciaran Fitzpatrick investigates what getting a no-fault eviction is like for tenants in the West Midlands and what can be done to tackle the crisis

A mother-of-seven from Birmingham says she doesn't know what to do anymore, after being served a section 21 eviction notice.

Simone Carrs, who lives in a four-bed house costing £825 a month in Moseley, says she's finding it increasingly difficult to find alternative suitable accommodation for a similar price.

She was served a section 21 eviction notice last year after being told by the landlord that they wanted to sell the property. She's yet to be given a date for that eviction.

She also says she regularly has to complain of rats in her kitchen and has even had to sleep in her children's bed because of the rodent issues.

She added that she needs a good sized house for her children, one of whom has special-educational needs, but says she's "priced out" of many properties because of how expensive they are in Birmingham.

"I've tried to go to the council," she said. "I've tried to go private but it's like £2,000 - how can I afford that?

"The prices are just way too much, I can't physically afford to pay that."

Simone's landlord says they're working with her to resolve the issues at her home, with pest control now involved.

She's not paying rent anymore, advised by her support worker and solicitor for the meantime, but has now also been served a section 8 eviction.

Simone Carrs doesn't know where to turn now she's been served an eviction - priced out by other similar properties in Birmingham. Credit: ITV News Central

What is a Section 21 no fault eviction?

  • Since the Housing Act 1988, private landlords have been able to use 'no-fault evictions' to repossess their properties, even if there has been no particular problem with the tenant.

  • Tenants must be given at least two months' notice to quit, after which they are legally obliged to leave the rental property.

What is the difference between a section 8 and section 21 eviction?

  • A section 8 notice is used normally for breach of tenancy, with rent arrears being the most common reason for the eviction. A landlord must list the grounds on the notice and prove this in court.

  • A section 21 is often more common because a landlord can give no reason and proceed with eviction a lot quicker.

Ange Parker was served a section 21 notice in January 2023 from her £650 a month home in Harborne, Birmingham - they also wanted to sell the property.

She's unable to work and is on universal credit.

She applied to view over 60 properties, but was consistently told she wasn’t the right fit because of affordability criteria.

She wanted to stay in Harborne - a pricey area - because her support network is there, but it took her three months to find somewhere. She now pays £900 a month.

As it happens, the landlord of the tenancy couldn't sell and they say it's up for rent at around the same price she's paying now.

Ange had applied for council housing but was told she wasn't a priority. Although she now doesn't fear eviction anymore, her finances are a lot tighter.

"I'm paying more than half of what I already get on top of that," she said. "So financially it's a lot more tight than it was."

  • "I'm more than what is in my bank balance": Ange Parker was turned away from even viewing 50 properties because she didn't fit their criteria after she was served a no fault eviction

The Labour MP for Edgbaston, Preet Gill, says more people are coming to her for support when being served evictions.

Gill says landlords are facing a "very difficult" situation as mortgage rates have gone up 21 times since 2021, which means "they have to either sell their properties or increase the rent".

She says it's also hard for councils too as temporary accommodation is "not appropriate" for some families.

"Having more homes and making sure people can afford them will absolutely address the issue."

Rents have increased across the country in the past year, the West Midlands has seen a 9.5% rise in average rents. Credit: PA

Crisis, a support charity, says the freeze on housing benefit from 2020 means the amount of financial support is reflecting rents of that year - which are "completely out of step with the market at the moment".

They say the housing market was "at breaking point", with only 3% of all properties in the West Midlands affordable on housing benefit rates.

The government hopes the The Renters’ Reform Bill, which is about to go through parliament, will tackle this issue. One of its key elements is to ban no-fault evictions.

It will be "the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in a generation," according to the government.

The bill could change the landscape of renting, with the changes likely to have a big impact on landlords and tenants.

The plans outlined in the long-awaited bill include scrapping no-fault evictions, ending fixed term contracts, outlawing arbitrary rent rises and making blanket bans on renting to families with children or tenants who receive benefits illegal.

Crisis has recommended three steps to the government to tackle the issue:

  • Unfreeze housing benefit

  • Bring forward Renters Reform Bill as soon as possible

  • Deliver more social housing

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: "We are concerned, like many other organisations, about the national housing crisis and in this case the part played by the private rented sector.

"We are seeing a rise in evictions through section 21 and it is increasingly difficult for local authorities to meet the housing needs of its residents. In the last quarter, over 500 households from the private rented sector approached us to say they are at risk of being made homeless.

"Partnership in the housing sector is crucial. Next month, Birmingham City Council is launching Birmingham Housing Week which is a chance to share and talk to people, investors, building owners and landlords about the future and vision for housing in Birmingham.

"We have also introduced licencing as a means to support the regulation and improvement in the private rented sector.

"Our Accommodation Finding Team works closely with landlords and we’ve secured 270 permanent family homes in the private rented sector in the last 18 months for families in housing need, but in almost every case we have to bridge the gap between what the government provides towards rent, compared with what landlords require.

"We urge anyone being treated badly by a landlord in the private rented sector to contact our Private Tenancy Unit and our Housing Solutions and Support Service can help those threatened with homelessness."

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up said: "Our landmark Renters (Reform) Bill currently going through Parliament is a vital part of our long-term plan for housing that will protect renters by abolishing section 21 'no fault' evictions.

"We are determined to create a private rented sector that is fit for the 21st century, which works for responsible landlords while giving tenants greater security in their homes."