HOMELESSNESS caused by "brutal and indiscriminate" no fault evictions has almost doubled across the North East since before the Covid pandemic, The Northern Echo can today reveal.

Current legislation means landlords can turf people out of their homes for no reason with the use of a Section 21 notice.

Measures to abolish the contentious notices are expected to be outlined in the Queen’s Speech today (May 10) following a 2019 Government pledge to scrap them.

However, the move will come too late for the 170 households across the region left facing homelessness last autumn after being issued with a Section 21.

Read more: Homelessness in the North East back up to pre-pandemic levels

That is almost double the number recorded in the same period in 2019, according to analysis of Government figures by The Echo and reporting service RADAR.

What is a Section 21?

Section 21 notices mean landlords can evict tenants once the fixed term in their tenancy agreement expires – sometimes with as little as eight weeks’ notice given.

Darlington woman Morag Meldrum was served with a Section 21 notice earlier this year after complaining about the condition of her home.

The Northern Echo:


A burst toilet pipe, leaking ceilings and cracked walls led to Ms Meldrum and her teen daughters believing the house on Harewood Hill was on the verge of collapse.

Read more: Darlington family evicted after complaints over sewage leak

With sewage water leaking into the kitchen, the family begged their landlord to carry out repairs.

Instead, they received an eviction notice.

Ms Meldrum said she is delighted to hear of the Government’s plans, adding: “Tenants will now feel less vulnerable.

“But I’m shocked to hear just how many people have been evicted – it’s incredibly stressful to be forced out of your home.

“The upheaval of moving is emotionally and financially draining and trying to find somewhere within your budget is really difficult.”

She added: “I appreciate the Section 21 notice played an important part for landlords in evicting nuisance tenants.

“I hope the Government introduce something to assist with that issue but also to protect other tenants.”

Ms Meldrum has now found alternative accommodation but has been forced to move away from her children’s school catchment area.

Between October and December last year, 21 households in Darlington were assessed as eligible for council homelessness support due to Section 21 notices being issued – up from 11 in 2019.

Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show there were also 17 households affected in Stockton, ten in Durham, six in Redcar and one in Middlesbrough.

Statistics for the whole region show that no fault evictions were an issue for 4 per cent of the households assessed as being homeless or at risk of homelessness in that period – they represented just 2 per cent in 2019.

Housing campaigners say Section 21 notices have contributed to worsening homelessness across the country.

More than 5,000 households in England faced homelessness due to no fault evictions in the last three months of 2021 – a 37 per cent rise compared to 2019.

Charity Shelter described the process as “blunt, brutal and indiscriminate”.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: “If landlords follow the process, as it stands they can turf people out of their homes for no reason – and tenants are powerless to do anything about it.”

Alicia Kennedy, director of the housing campaign group Generation Rent, said: "With house prices and rents surging, landlords have been cashing in by selling up or replacing their tenants with people who can afford to pay more.

"The cost of this upheaval is falling on the tenants themselves and stretched local authorities.”

She said the Government “must act” to provide a more stable rental market.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said it was bringing forward reforms to help renters, including ending no-fault evictions.


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