1. ITV Report

Warning thousands could be at risk of ‘no fault’ evictions

A housing charity has warned more than 40% of private rental tenants in Wales could be at risk of being evicted from their homes on “no fault grounds”.

Nearly half a million people in Wales now rent their homes from private landlords, including growing numbers of older people and families with young children.

Shelter Cymru said it has concerns about landlords’ ability to use Section 21 notices - commonly referred to as ‘no fault’ evictions - to evict tenants without explanation. It is calling for the powers to be abolished.

“With a ‘no fault’ eviction… in many cases there are no grounds”, said Shelter Cymru Director John Puzey. “It’s simply the landlord wants to sell or bring somebody else in who’s going to pay a higher rent”.

Colin and his partner received a Section 21 notice from their landlord

Colin Sharman and his partner Francisca Rigaud, both in their 60s, had been living in their private rented home in Cardiff for six months when they received a Section 21 notice from the landlord.

They said they don’t know why the eviction notice was served, and that the process was “horrendous”.

“We didn’t even know of the existence of Section 21, we didn’t even know what it was”, Colin told ITV Wales.

“We had to research it and then discovered to our horror that it was legally enforceable. They don’t have to give you a reason, you are served with a Section 21 and you have to leave”.

Like most tenants in the private rental sector, Francisca and Colin had an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Under the terms of Section 21, landlords can ask tenants to leave once their fixed term ends - provided they give two months notice.

“Even when you are fully paid up, you’ve done everything required of you and everything else you can still be served a Section 21 notice with no explanation” said Colin. “It’s genuinely traumatising.”

ITV Wales News approached Francisca and Colin’s former landlord to find out why they were asked to move out, but received no response.

The Residential Landlords’ Association says Section 21 is currently necessary to protect its members - and that in the majority of cases, tenants end tenancies themselves.

“Section 21 is a real safety net for landlords” said Douglas Haig of the Residential Landlords Association.

“They always know that the property can be returned to them and that they can continue to use it in how they need to”.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said a balance needs to be struck “between tenants’ and landlords’ rights”.

How some landlords use section 21 notices is of concern, and the time is right for a wider public discussion. Scotland has recently abolished Section 21 notices and we are watching closely to understand the impact on the private rented sector there.

In Wales, under our Renting Homes Act a landlord will still be able to serve a two month notice, but tenants will receive greater protection against retaliatory eviction. This will help prevent the misuse of this notice as a response to legitimate claims for disrepair.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Learn more about Francisca and Colin's story here.

See more on this story in Richard Morgan’s report, tonight on Wales at Six.

More on this story