'Worrying' rise in 'no-fault' evictions adding to rural property problems

'No-fault' evictions are adding to property issues in rural areas of Suffolk, Citizens Advice officers have said.

'No-fault' evictions are adding to property issues in rural areas of Suffolk, Citizens Advice officers have said. - Credit: PA/ALISON MOOR

Charity bosses say a "worrying" rise in 'no-fault' evictions is making a "perfect storm" of property shortages in rural areas worse.

Landlords can use Section 21 notices to evict tenants even if they are not in rent arrears and have not broken any of the terms of their tenancy.

According to stats provided by Suffolk councils, the largest number of people battling 'no-fault' evictions is in East Suffolk – the county's largest council area.

Chiara Saunders, Leiston branch chief officer at East Suffolk Citizens Advice, said the rise in the number of no-fault evictions was playing a part in the "perfect storm" of housing problems in rural areas.

She said: "We are seeing more Section 21 notices coming through for a variety of reasons. 

"Part of that has been a clampdown in the past. It's hard to tell whether these are Section 21s that would've happened before the pandemic but they weren't able to, or whether it's because rents and house prices are going up around here and people are thinking they can cash in.

"It is worrying in the context of rising rents and rising property prices for people in the area."

Chiara Saunders is now heading up the Leiston, Saxmundham and District Citizen’s Advice Picture: ALI

Chiara Saunders - Credit: ALISON MOOR

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Mrs Saunders said that people evicted in rural locations faced more challenges finding another home than those in urban areas.

She said: "Given the increase, the current cost of living and all the problems that people have finding properties in a rural area, it's part of the perfect storm."

Tina Winney, a caseworker with East Suffolk Citizens Advice in Lowestoft, said: "Most of the time, it is definitely because they've had enough of being landlords and wanting to sell, so they're just sort of realising their assets."

Ms Winney added that the government plans to ban Section 21 evictions which, she believes, is a reason why some landlords are selling up.

An East Suffolk Council spokesman said there had been an increase in the number of families being evicted since the end of lockdown.

The council works with landlords, as well as other organisations, to try and stop evictions.

He added: “If prevention is not successful, the council provides assistance through the relief duty, and when necessary, makes offers of temporary accommodation under s188 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended) until such a time when suitable long-term accommodation is identified and any duty is lawfully discharged.”