279 Portsmouth area households faced eviction under 'no-fault' process set to be scrapped by government

MORE than 200 households in Portsmouth faced homelessness after being served controversial ‘no-fault’ eviction notices.

By Ben Fishwick
Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 12:05 am

The section 21 notices can be issued by landlords who do not need to give a reason – and could simply ‘dislike’ the tenant.

Of the 550 possession hearings attended by The News and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, one in five involved such notices.

Other hearings involved section eight notices – where a landlord had to explain why they want tenants out the house.

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Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP. Picture: Sarah Standing (021219-3189)

Gosport mum Kaye Styler faced eviction along with her two children while struggling with poor mental health after being given a section 21 notice.

Her MP, Caroline Dinenage, told The News: ‘Abolition of Section 21 would provide greater certainty for tenants by establishing a practice of open-ended tenancies.

‘This needs to be balanced with assurance that landlords can still recover their properties.’

Analysis of government figures by The News shows 279 households were issued with them across Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport in the year to March 2021.

Many will not have attended court, but will have just left their home.

Alwin Oliver, vice chairman of Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association, said: ‘The reason in many cases section 21 is used is because it is more cost effective, since the case cannot be defended once some basic legal checks have been carried out by the court.

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‘Access to justice is not only slow but in some cases the legal costs of using rent arrears as the reason for the claim can be much greater than the arrears themselves.

‘The sad thing is that in many if not all cases, early intervention, access to financial advice and words of advice to landlords and tenants alike can prevent many if not all repossession claims.’

Hayling Island-based landlord Tony Athill added: ‘Those who demonise landlords say we evict for personal gain.

‘This is nonsense, it costs us money to evict and then find a new tenant – the property is likely to be empty for a while earning nothing.’

In 2019 the government committed to scrapping section 21 notices.

When approached by the Bureau it insisted the measure will be brought into the Renters’ Reform Bill. No timings have yet been given.

Housing solicitor Tina Smith, from Swain & Co in Havant, said she thinks section 21 will be change so landlords must give a reason for eviction.

She said: ‘Right now everybody is seeing a lot of possession matters whereby a landlord just wants to get the tenant out and that has a knock-on effect for people becoming homeless.

‘They can’t stop a landlord needing to take back possession of the property, they might want to get it back for themselves, or sell it.’

She added: ‘I think they will make changes because there are a lot of people with assured shorthold tenancy and they could be out because a landlord decided they want them out or took a dislike for no particular reason.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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