Ministry of Justice data shows that there are approximately 21,000 landlords who have permission from the courts to evict tenants after serving Section 21 ‘no fault’ notices, but who are now stuck in limbo due to Covid.

These landlords, who have been ‘forgotten’ during the multiple extensions to the eviction ban over the past year since the pandemic started, are unable to sell properties, move back onto them or evict extreme rental arrears tenants until bailiff evictions are given the green light again.

The earliest that is likely to happen will the 31st May when the current ban ends, meaning many landlords will have been waiting 14 months or more since serving Section 21 notices either before the first evictions ban in March last year.

But while attention has been focussed on rent arrears and the financial problems it is causing for both tenants and their landlords, these 20,000 or so landlords are stuck.

Tim Frome of Landlord Action estimates that 25% of his firm’s current claims were initiated through Section 21 notices.

The problem with the government’s evictions ban is that it ‘blanket’ ban on all Section 21 evictions, even when a landlord may have a pressing financial need to repossess a property, and the tenant is not in financial distress.

30-month wait

We talked to one landlord, who wishes to remain anonymous after threats from the tenant involved, who served a Section 21 notice after he stopped paying rent in October 2018 and is still waiting for him to leave nearly 30 months later.

After it became clear that the tenant was intent on using every legal trick in the book to evade paying rent including refusing property inspections or maintenance requests, she issued a Section 21 ‘no fault’ notice and was granted a possession order in November 2019, with a bailiff date set for mid-April 2020.

Just before that date the government introduced its evictions ban, which has been in place ever since and is now set to finish at the end of May. This leaves the landlord’s case in limbo and the tenancy £30,000 in rent arrears plus costs and counting.

“The irony is that he’s not even living there and is illegally sub-letting the property so it’s not like we’re making him homeless,” she says.

“We’re not greedy landlords – we’re reasonable about tenants who are in financial distress and who we are happy to help out, but at the moment the law protects tenants intent on ripping us off too as well as the vulnerable.”

Read more about Section 21 notice evictions.


  1. The govt extended the eviction bad to end of May simply because they didn’t want adverse publicity if tenants were being evicted on the run up to the elections…

    Pure political opportunism.

  2. I had a similar experience. I jumped through all the legal hoops after my tenant started going into rent arrears in July 2018, but refused to engage with me regarding this. Her eviction date should have been 25 March 2020, but of course this did not happen as planned. I approached the Housing Benefit office, and then Universal Credit, and managed to get an Alternative Payment Arrangement for a few months, which covered most of the rent due during that period. However, the payment didn’t arrive in August and then I had to find out from the neighbours that she had moved out on 13 July. Of course, all subsequent payments went directly to my tenant in her new home. The house was uninhabited and deteriorating, but if I had changed the locks and re-let it, she could have sued me for carrying out an unlawful eviction, and I wasn’t willing to risk that. I continued to try to persuade her to end the tenancy, but she claimed that she was keeping the house until she had removed all her possessions, and it was not until 17 October that it was officially surrendered and I was able to refurbish and let it to some reliable tenants.
    My tenant’s debt is nowhere near as high as the one described above, and I can really empathise with the landlord who has lost £30k. Nevertheless, it caused me tremendous stress owing to the loss of income on which I relied. As a landlord, I am considered to be an investor, and so, unlike the self-employed, do not qualify for any financial help from the government.
    I am amazed and appalled that anyone in the government could possibly consider that it is right to inflict this problem on landlords, many of whom are pensioners, own just one or two rental properties, and rely on the income to top up an inadequate pension. If anyone knows of any group action to be taken against the government to compensate for these losses, I would really like to know about it.

  3. Yep, that’s me. I have been waiting since the end of 2019 to get my property back.

    When the tenancy started, the tenant was well behaved and had no pets. I assume therefore if he had then asked to introduce a ‘well behaved’ cat, I would have no reason or indeed right to refuse under the Gov model tenancy agreement? Here we are two years on and he has several cats and a dog (not that he even asked if he could have them) the house is full of rubbish, the council are asking me to get my tenant to clear it and there are huge rent arrears. The house was fully refurbished when he moved in and will need completely re-modelling. I am sure a government minister will read this over the weekend and come back with a perfect actionable solution to resolve this during the course of next week.


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