We are told today by the Renter Reform Coalition that 700,000 private renting households have received a S21 no-fault eviction notice since the pandemic began which could affect 1.6 million men, women and children given 2.3 is the average household size. It is an outrage. Yet nobody it seems has bothered to ask how many housing association households and council LHC tenants have also been served the same Section 21 no-fault eviction notices!
We know from official data that Starter Tenancies are used for more than 70% of all new housing association tenancies and they are the exact same Assured Shorthold Tenancy as used in the private rented sector and can be ended by the exact same section 21 no-fault eviction notice. That is just as much an outrage and in my view an even greater outrage since nobody has even bothered to ask or find out how many HA renting households are evicted in this way.
Shelter has a page on their website which deals with HA ‘starter tenancies’ and as you can see a housing association can operate no-fault eviction in the exact same way as a private landlord via a Section 21 Notice.
Yet not one of the Renter Reform Coalition members has even bothered to ask how many no-fault eviction section 21 Notices have been issued by housing associations.
Additionally almost every local authority across England owns their own private landlord company called a Local Housing Company (LHC) and all of these are restricted to the Assured Shorthold Tenancy because they are private landlords and they too issue Section 21 no-fault eviction … yet not a peep from the Renters Reform Alliance
Insert LHC definition
If a no-fault eviction is an outrage, is amoral, is offensive then it is all of these things regardless of which type of landlord uses no-fault eviction and ANY landlord that does is the proverbial bastard.
The populist clamour to ban no fault evictions is incredibly ill-considered and is the same populist nonsense that said Brexit will give £350m more per week to the NHS. It is very much a politically-driven agenda that deals with theory which sounds so right and so populist yet does not give any consideration to practical impacts and how it can make renting an even worse reality after any such ban.
The Banning of No-Fault Eviction (NFE) is a good thing?
No policy acts in a vacuum and the banning of NFE will have far more damaging and dangerous consequences than keeping it especially in terms of homelessness. In simple yet valid terms, making it more difficult and more time-consuming to evict means it will impose a greater cost of eviction on ALL landlords – which on the face of it I have no objection to.
However, what it undoubtedly and inevitably means is that ALL landlords will undoubtedly and inevitably become more risk averse as to whom they will accommodate in the first place. This is hugely problematic and best explained in terms of single homelessness as in England social landlords only offer up 13,000 rehousing properties to single homeless persons each year when England has and creates at least 150,000 single homeless persons each and every year.
England is reliant on the private landlord to rehouse 137,000 of this minimum 150,000 and over 90% of its single homeless persons each and every year. The banning of no-fault eviction means private landlords will take flight from rehousing the single homeless cohorts it currently does as the single homeless prospective tenant become a higher risk and higher cost cohort due to the banning of NFE and there is no extra financial reward for rehousing them.
Every company in every sector assesses risk versus reward. If you are a higher risk customer then you are charged a higher cost for that provider perceived risk. An insurance company is a simple analogy that we all know so if you want to ski or snowboard then your insurance premium is a much higher cost than somebody who wants to merely holiday abroad by soaking up the sun. That same principle applies with NFE to prospective tenants.
ALL single homeless and even family homeless households are more likely to be evicted again is how ALL landlords perceive risk of tenancy failure yet there is no extra they can charge the homeless household in rent to mitigate that higher risk. There is no industry that will take a higher risk for no higher reward yet that is what the banning of no-fault eviction means for the landlord in the housing industry.
Return to the facts above and do some simple arithmetic and the NFE banning and how it will affect single homelessness is horrific. To keep the numbers simple let’s say private landlords rehouse 130,000 single homeless per year and social landlords rehouse 13,000 per year.
IF PRS landlords take just 10% flight from this tenant market they rehouse 13,000 fewer single homeless persons per year which means SRS landlords will have to increase the number they rehouse by 13,000 for a 100% increase by rehousing 26,000 in total – the usual 13,000 plus the 13,000 the PRS will no longer rehouse.
If PRS landlords take 20% flight from rehousing single homeless persons then social landlords will need to TREBLE the number they rehouse (from 13,000 to 39,000) and if PRS landlords take 30% flight from rehousing single homeless persons then social landlords will need to QUADRUPLE the number they rehouse from 13,000 to 52,000 per year.
BECAUSE social landlords do not have the capacity to even double the number of single homeless households they currently rehouse it means single people in homeless hostels and domestic abuse refuges have to stay there longer which means more rough sleepers not able to get into hostels and many more domestic abuse victims not able to get into refuge.
The homeless and domestic abuse implications from banning no-fault evictions by private landlords, housing associations and council-owned local housing companies is horrific and the NFE ban does not just adversely impact here but on a much wider scale.
EVERY landlord will become far more risk averse and far more circumspect for mainstream general needs tenants. The risk factors of it being harder, lengthier and more costly to evict means every prospective renter will be subject to far greater scrutiny when it comes to all allocation of every rented property. Those perceived increased risks were known before the pandemic and are much more increased due to the pandemic. Three million more on Universal Credit and massively reduced job security for millions is what the pandemic has seen.
For example, a prospective tenant working full time in the hospitality industry or retail was a lowish risk of arrears before the pandemic yet now and in the future has become a higher perceived risk of arrears to landlords. Look a bit closer and all the high rent areas where housing benefit comes nowhere near the rent charged and all prospective tenants in low-paying employment become a higher risk to arrears as their low paying jobs are significantly more precarious as a result of the pandemic.
If many office workers retaining employment begin to start working from home 2 days per week as a pandemic consequence then they purchase 40% less from a coffee shop, a sandwich shop as they are not at the office workplace and thus all those coffee and sandwich shop businesses have a much greater employee precarity for their low-paid workforce and more likely to fold … which means even full-time but low paid employed renters are a greater risk to the arrears to eviction to homeless pathway and (correctly) perceived that way by landlords.
I could go on but anyone who thinks that landlords, private and social, do and will not factor in all of the pandemic impacts on prospective tenant risk they are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land and so allocation scrutiny for ALL renters by ALL landlords will increase anyway and further increase significantly IF a no-fault eviction ban becomes statute. No policy change acts in a vacuum and no policy change should be proposed without a full consideration of what changes landlords will make when section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction is banned.
In short, banning no-fault eviction was always a very dangerous proposal that has become dangerous with the pandemic and its consequences. To be precise it was always a superficial and moralistic proposal that was ill thought-through and it still is ill thought-through by the Renter Reform Coalition.
In isolation banning no-fault eviction is similar to the banning of alcohol or Prohibition in the USA a century ago. It is as superficial as it gets and no thought has gone into what it means or how ‘bad’ tenants are evicted. Yes, all eviction is abhorrent and it should only be affected with clear fault in a transparent and lawful process – a renter rents their home not just a set of bricks and mortar and having their home taken away from them is repugnant. Eviction is, however, a necessary evil and a landlord right too.
Two years ago the Theresa May government announced it was proposing to ban no fault eviction. It took most by surprise yet in the two years since there has never been anything more than this phrase. There has been no concrete proposal, no wording on how it is to be banned, no wording on what will replace the expected section 21 ban – and absolutely no discussion on what the impacts of banning no-fault evition will be or mean. Like any rational humane person I support the removal of the no fault eviction and I know that no fault eviction is truly abhorrent.
Yet I also know that just removing the section 21 notice will undoubtedly lead to far greater rough sleeper numbers and far greater single and family homelessness and far greater domestic abuse and will make it far harder for anyone to rent from a social or private landlord.
Be careful what you wish for