‘My youngest child doesn’t know what a home is’

Loss of ten­ancy – some­times with just two months’ no­tice – is a ma­jor cause of home­less­ness, forc­ing fam­i­lies into tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion. Th­ese pho­to­graphs by show how peo­ple liv­ing in north Wales have been af­fected. In­tro­duc­tion by in­ter­views by

The Guardian - G2 - - Style Q&A -

Sean Smith

Poppy Noor, Steven Mor­ris

The sin­gle big­gest cause of home­less­ness to­day is loss of ten­ancy – in other words, an evic­tion. An in­creas­ing num­ber of th­ese are “no-fault evic­tions” – mean­ing the land­lord need not give any rea­son why they are turf­ing some­one out of their home.

This year, a study for the Joseph Rown­tree Foun­da­tion and the Cam­bridge Cen­tre for Hous­ing and Plan­ning Re­search found that 80% of pri­vate­sec­tor evic­tions in 2015 oc­curred un­der th­ese pro­vi­sions, which fall un­der sec­tion 21 of the Hous­ing Act 1988.

A ten­ant can’t ap­peal against a sec­tion 21 evic­tion un­less they can demon­strate it was re­tal­i­a­tion for com­plaints made about prob­lems in their home and that their home was un­safe to live in. The Guardian has re­ported on peo­ple be­ing evicted un­der sec­tion 21 for rea­sons as mi­nor as ask­ing for hot wa­ter.

The rise in this type of evic­tion has ac­com­pa­nied an out-of-con­trol hous­ing mar­ket that in­creas­ingly works in favour of the land­lord. In the last eight years, loss of a ten­ancy has in­creased three­fold. Ac­cord­ing to the English Hous­ing Sur­vey, a branch of the De­part­ment for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment that col­lects data on peo­ple’s hous­ing cir­cum­stances, 63% of evic­tions hap­pen when a land­lord wants to sell up or use the prop­erty for a dif­fer­ent pur­pose.

Af­ter a cer­tain pe­riod, en­shrined in short-term ten­ancy agree­ments, res­i­dents can be given just two months’ no­tice. What hap­pens af­ter that de­pends largely on luck. Be­cause it is tech­ni­cally an evic­tion, the ten­ant may not be looked upon kindly by their lo­cal author­ity – they may even be seen as hav­ing made them­selves “in­ten­tion­ally home­less”, in which case they won’t be en­ti­tled to sup­port from the coun­cil and so might find them­selves sleep­ing on so­fas or the streets.

If the ten­ant is lucky enough to avoid that fate, they might get put into tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion, which varies hugely in qual­ity: a B&B, hos­tel, or a room in a bud­get ho­tel. Fam­i­lies of­ten live in a sin­gle room, with sib­lings shar­ing a bed, and they may have to share fa­cil­i­ties with peo­ple they do not

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