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Record property evictions: expert shares vital advice for landlords and tenants

New figures reveal that bailiffs are evicting more renting households than at any time in the last six years. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reported earlier this month that county court bailiffs evicted 2,682 households in England and Wales in the first three months of this year due to landlords issuing section 21 “no fault” eviction notices. This is the highest level since early 2017, despite the government promising to end the practice in April 2019.

Rising evictions and their causes
Property expert Jonathan Rolande, founder of House Buy Fast, commented on the figures, noting a significant increase in the use of Section 21 notices. “The use of Section 21, so-called ‘no-fault eviction’ notices, was up 19% in the first quarter of 2024. The use of bailiffs is now at a six-year high,” he stated. He attributed part of this rise to landlords and the court system catching up on the backlog of cases from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as landlords opting to sell properties in a challenging rental market.

Landlords’ perspectives and challenges
Rolande, who is also a spokesman for the National Association of Property Buyers, explained the broader implications for landlords. “Landlords are opting to take the capital growth instead. Government dithering on the Section 21 ban has been the worst of all worlds – the ban has not materialised, but the threat is there, which has unnerved owners, many of whom have quit the sector,” he said. Additionally, the cost of living crisis has exacerbated the situation, with landlords facing higher costs for insurance and maintenance while tenants struggle with stagnant wages and rising inflation in essential sectors like food and energy.

Practical advice for tenants and landlords
Addressing the impact on tenants, Rolande highlighted that Section 21 is not typically used to evict tenants for non-payment of rent but to end a fixed term. “The use of bailiffs in the case of a 21 indicates tenants have not vacated as arranged, many no doubt hanging on as long as possible when accommodation elsewhere is scarce or out of budget,” he explained.

For landlords, Rolande advised:

  1. “Forbearance is always the right place to start, especially if the tenant has usually been reliable – anyone’s circumstances can change for the worse so be patient.”
  2. “Ask the tenant what they can afford to pay.”
  3. “Remember that it is often better to help an existing tenant rather than evicting them and starting again with somebody new.”
  4. “Consider if the tenant could be in a vulnerable state and make additional allowances if so.”
  5. “Give them assistance if they need to claim benefits. It is often a blip, evicting a tenant from their home should be a last resort, when all other options have failed.”

For tenants, Rolande advised:

  1. “Don’t bury your head in the sand. Speak to your landlord or agent and explain the issues you are experiencing. Pay what you can rather than nothing – a contribution towards outstanding rent is better than nothing.”
  2. “Check to see if you are entitled to benefits.”
  3. “If practical, ask for permission to rent a room or take in overseas students to boost your finances.”
  4. “Check your bills – could you save on council tax by applying for a discount or cut costs elsewhere?”
  5. “Get financial advice – Citizens Advice is a good place to start.”

Reflecting on the housing crisis
The surge in evictions highlights the ongoing housing crisis affecting many in the UK. As the government continues to grapple with housing policies, the advice from experts like Rolande provides crucial guidance for both renters and landlords navigating these challenging times. The broader implications of these trends underscore the need for comprehensive solutions to address the root causes of the housing crisis and ensure stability for all stakeholders involved.