Almost 6,000 landlords in England started court proceedings against tenants in the first three months of 2022 after serving them a so-called ‘no-fault’ eviction notice, figures show.
Some 5,890 landlords started accelerated procedure claims between January and March after issuing renters with a Section 21 notice, according to figures published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on Thursday.
This is up 63% on the previous quarter and 41% compared to the same period in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall, 18,626 eviction claims were made to courts by social and private landlords in the first three months of 2022.
This is up 32% from the last three months of 2021, but is down by around a fifth compared to the same period in 2020.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, measures were introduced to protect tenants in the private rental system from losing their homes.
These included a temporary ban on evictions, which was lifted from May 2021.
The MoJ said bailiffs are working through the backlog of repossession claims and other action dating back to the beginning of the pandemic, and that numbers are expected to continue “rising steadily” throughout the year.
The Government first pledged to scrap no-fault evictions in 2019.
Earlier this month in the Queen’s Speech, it said it will introduce a Renters Reform Bill to protect private renters and abolish no-fault evictions.
Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said every minute wasted puts another renter at risk.
She said: “It’s alarming that as the living cost crisis rages more landlords are kicking tenants out of their homes.
“These are real people whose lives are being turned upside down and simply cannot afford to lose their homes right now.”
Ameera, 47, and her four children are facing homelessness after being served a Section 21 eviction notice.
They have been told to leave the home they have lived in for four years in Sussex by the end of June, but Ameera is concerned she will not pass tenancy checks due to her credit score.
She said: “My anxiety is rocketing, and the uncertainty of this situation is affecting my children too.
“There are so few properties available, and my son has to be near his school because of his learning disability.
“I don’t know how we’ll find somewhere else in such a small timeframe, or how I’ll afford it.”
Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, said it is “unacceptable” that the Government is allowing more people to be forced from their homes.
He said: “While families across the country battle to keep roofs over their heads, government inaction over the spiralling costs of energy, rent and food is causing more and more people to be sucked into this crisis.
“To prevent unthinkable numbers of people being pushed into homelessness, we urge the Government to make good on their pledge to scrap ‘no-fault’ Section 21 notices as quickly as possible, as well as unfreezing housing benefit so it covers the true cost of renting.
“More dither and delay will lead to more households being forced into making impossible decisions as their budgets are squeezed to breaking point.”
A spokesman for the National Residential Landlords Association said: “It was inevitable that there would be an increase in cases heard by the courts in both the private and social housing sectors given the backlog following the repossession ban during the pandemic.
“It is vital that such cases are now heard in a timely fashion and in a way that is fair to both tenants and responsible landlords.”
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokeswoman said: “These new statistics show that overall landlord possession claims remain lower compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Our Renters Reform Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, will deliver a radically fairer deal for renters, including abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
“The Government understands the pressures people are facing with rising cost of living and are providing a £22 billion package of financial support alongside action to support families and help renters stay in their homes.”