TENANTS in Bolton are still at risk of becoming homeless due to no-fault evictions.

Data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shows 29 households in Bolton were made homeless or put at risk of homelessness between October and December last year after being served with section 21 notices.

This is when a landlord can evict a tenant when a tenancy contract comes to an end.

This was an increase from the 15 households threatened with homelessness for the same reason in October to December of 2019, before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

These figures come despite the government’s pledge to scrap ‘no-fault’ evictions, which allows landlords to give their tenants as little as eight weeks’ notice to leave – sometimes without reason – once their fixed term tenancy agreement has expired.

Richard Wilkinson, CEO of Bolton and Bury Citizen’s Advice explained that the pandemic had got in the way of progress with regards to section 21 orders being repealed.

He said that 2022 had been earmarked for when the issue would be revisited, but has seen nothing from the government suggest change is forthcoming.

The Bolton News: Citizen's Advice Bolton and Bury CEO Richard Wilkinson wants section 21 orders to be repealedCitizen's Advice Bolton and Bury CEO Richard Wilkinson wants section 21 orders to be repealed

“We would be strongly advising the government to renew its plans,” he said.

“Section 21 orders are one of the biggest causes of street homelessness and we want to see it repealed.”

He added: “Our experience is that it’s use a lot. It’s a simple provision for landlords.

“It’s often used when a tenant complains about repairs, or something like that.

“There is protection in place but the burden of proof falls on the tenant – they have to have written proof. So, if you call your landlord and complain that ‘this needs fixing’ or ‘there’s mould in the bathroom’, that wouldn’t count. You have to have proof in writing.

“There is nothing to stop them evicting you.”

Mr Wilkinson said there are things that tenants can do. Seeking advice is often the first step.

“We’d really encourage people to ask for specialist advice to check if it’s been done legally,” he said.

“You can get help to form a defence to delay or prevent eviction.

“In most cases eviction is inevitable, but homes are difficult to find for lots and lots of people so delaying it can give people a bit of wiggle room to get out of a property.

“People can also get help to apply for local housing under homeless legislation to get rehoused.

“Getting rehoused is really difficult because people might not meet vulnerability or priority criteria.

“This could happen to a good, honest, rent paying tenant. Perhaps they don’t have friends of family who can take them in - then they’re on the streets.”