‘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
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