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No-fault evictions: 'A note through the door evicted me'

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image captionThe new law will mean a tenant cannot be evicted until they have been in their new home for at least a year

Late last year, Mark Evans got a note through the door telling him he had to leave the home he had lived in since 2016.

It was a section 21 notice, which gives tenants two months to move out.

Known as no-fault evictions, the law is now being changed to ban them in Wales and England, while this has already happened in Scotland.

But landlords said section 21 notices were mostly used to evict tenants who were in arrears or causing a nuisance.

After speaking to his letting agent, Mr Evans, 47, learnt his landlord simply wanted to sell the Aberdare property.

He is still there on a monthly basis, but added: "Every time I go to the estate agent to pay the rent they are asking 'when are you going to leave?'"

"I'm having great problems trying to find anywhere, so it's very awkward."

Mr Evans was forced to stop working because of a health condition and said because he is on housing benefit, other landlords will not take him.

He is number 23 on his council's waiting list for social housing and believes tenants should have longer notice periods before being evicted.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionCurrently, tenants have little protection if the owner of their home decides to sell

About 30% of Welsh homes are rented - 209,000 from landlords and 229,000 from councils or housing associations.

To give more protection, the Welsh Government is looking to outlaw no-fault evictions and make other changes.

It has proposed a minimum six-month notice period before landlords can evict tenants.

Renters could not be evicted during the first six months of a tenancy, which would mean a guaranteed year in their new home free from the threat of eviction.

Housing Minister Julie James said abolishing no-fault evictions would "add further significant protections" for people who rent.

"What we are trying to do is make sure good landlords are rewarded well and bad landlords are driven out of the market," she added.

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image captionLandlords said going to the courts to evict an anti-social tenant could be difficult

However, Douglas Haig of the Residential Landlords' Association said section 21 notices were mostly used to evict tenants who were in arrears or causing a nuisance.

Going through the courts to evict someone for anti-social behaviour can take much longer, he said, and "very often the neighbours are too frightened to get involved and the police are too busy to do anything".

He added: "We agree we have to give something that makes the property tenants live in as a rented property more their home.

"However, we just feel that the Welsh Government hasn't listened to the technical requirements as to why things exist."

But Shelter Cymru campaigns manager Jennie Bibbings welcomed the change.

"This type of eviction brings us a huge amount of casework every year," she said.

"Two months is nowhere near enough time to find somewhere else to live."

'Panic move'

She said currently people undertake a "panic move", uprooting their family and going for "the least worst option".

The proposals are among a set of changes to the law on renting due to be introduced next year.

Landlords will also have to follow new regulations making sure they let homes in a fit state for people to live in.

Legislation was passed in the Senedd in 2016, but its introduction was delayed, partly because of negotiations between the Welsh and UK governments over IT systems.

The cost of the IT update, which the Welsh Government has agreed to pay, is still being discussed, but Ms James said it would be "somewhere in the region of £700,000 to £1m".

Related Topics

  • Housing
  • Aberdare
  • Social housing
  • Affordable housing
  • Welsh government
  • Housing Benefit

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