Eviction notices for older private renters drop through letter boxes in England every 16 minutes, according to new figures.
Research for homeless charity Shelter shows 7% of over 55s have received a ‘no fault’ Section 21 notice in the last three years.
Calculating how many older renters live in the private sector, it is the equivalent of 90 older renters per day, or one eviction notice served every 16 minutes.
The charity is calling for the government to finally scrap no-fault evictions, saying delays to the Renters Reform Bill are harming the health of thousands.
A quarter of renters aged over 55 say that worrying about being evicted is having a negative impact on their mental or physical health.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, told Sky News: “If the government continues to delay this essential legislation that they’ve been promising, I might add for years, what we’re going to be seeing is increasing levels of homelessness.
“In fact, that’s what we’re already seeing.
“And what today’s research shows is that this is going to be affecting older people, very acutely.
“And that’s something that I think the government isn’t necessarily fully aware of.
“And maybe some of those MPs, who think they may be trying to delay this legislation might wake up and take notice when they realise the level of misery that this delay is causing.”
‘Sheer panic’ after no fault eviction
Figures from the charity show that nearly one fifth (20%) of adult renters in England are over 55 – up 31% in the last decade.
Nearly three in ten private tenants over the age of 55 – equating to 400,000 people – also live in fear of eviction.
No-fault, or Section 21, evictions allow landlords to take back possession from tenants without giving a reason.
Karen Murphy, 61, had privately rented the same house for 16 years.
She was recently evicted along with her husband and son by her landlord.
Unable to find anywhere affordable or available she faced the possibility of homelessness.
She said: “It was absolutely horrendous. We didn’t know where we were going to sleep.”
“It felt definite,” she added. “I felt because we just couldn’t find anywhere…we just couldn’t afford it.”
She described “sheer panic”.
“You can’t sleep. You can’t eat properly. You walk around in a daze. You know, you just don’t know what you’re going to do. I just kept praying.”
She says she’s ended up in a rental that is being renovated.
Karen is planning on trying to find a job to be able to afford a more suitable place next year.
She says she feels the precariousness of renting: “If our current landlord decided to sell or to, you know, build…we would be in the same situation.”
Housing stock shortage
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Landlords Association, says abolishing Section 21 is only “going to solve the security issue for a small cohort of people”.
Ultimately, he says, it comes down to housing provision.
“We’ll still be stuck with the same number of houses unless the government comes up with different types of incentives to encourage people to bring their properties to the market.
“That’s ultimately what we need.
“So by all means, you know, government can get on and scrap Section 21, providing the alternative works and gives confidence to responsible landlords.
“But at the end of the day, it’s actually not going to help renters as much as some would purport.”
A spokesperson from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities said: “The Renters (Reform) Bill currently going through parliament will deliver a fairer, more secure, and higher quality private rented sector.
“It will abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to deliver the government’s commitment to a better deal for renters and landlords – improving the system for responsible tenants and good landlords.”