The Living Hell of Being Evicted in Your Twenties

No-fault evictions have haunted renters across England. Now, a proposed bill could bring them to an end.
A housing protester holds a sign
Image: Getty

A few days ago, I was driving to the supermarket when a big red “For Sale” sign startled me. I pulled over and found the property listing online. The asking price for the apartment was close to £250,000. I finally had an answer for why my partner and I had been evicted from that exact flat last year.

We’d been living together in Petersfield for two years when a Section 21 eviction notice (also known as a “no-fault eviction”) slid through our letterbox. We were two of the approximately 200,000 renters in England who have been served one in the last three years. 


This flat was our first home together. We knew it was ours from the moment we saw it. We looked after the house and paid our rent on time. But we had to leave. The worst part? We didn’t know why. No-fault evictions allow landlords to evict without explanation, giving just two months notice.

Over a year has passed since our eviction, and I still flinch when the letterbox rattles or the door goes. 

Now, a proposed law seeks to ban no-fault evictions due to the “detrimental effect on tenant wellbeing”. Ruth Ehrlich, a spokesperson for Shelter, a housing and homelessness charity, says: “It’s clear to us that the private rental sector is not serving the people who need it anymore. That’s why we’re calling for no-fault evictions to be scrapped.”  

“Banning no-fault evictions will not only mean fewer evictions. Landlords will have to prove the reasons they want to evict. If a landlord is evicting their tenants to sell the property, they will have to prove that they’re putting those plans in place.” Ehrlich adds, “It also means that if they’re evicting a tenant for problematic behaviour, they’d have to prove what the tenant has done.”

Bartender Jean-Paul Rama, 24, was evicted from his home along with his four flatmates in November last year. They had been living in Peckham on “suspiciously cheap £400 rent”, but weren’t allowed to access some areas of the property. Rama was the only one of the house’s inhabitants who wasn’t given a tenancy agreement. “The landlord kept saying he’d get it to me and it never happened,” he says. “Looking back, it was definitely being rented illegally.”


Despite the red flags they were all excited to live there. “The location was everything to me. Peckham has always been like a home away from home and I really wanted to live there.” 

The terrible news came while Rama was at work – his manager passed on news of the eviction notice. “It was 9PM on a weekend. And I was on the bar with this sea of people in front of me waving and dying for a drink. But I was just like, ‘I’ve got nowhere to live. I’ve got nowhere to live. I’ve got nowhere to live.’” 

He continues: “We kept the place tidy. We never really had any complaints. We had the odd party for a birthday, but we were never a nuisance.” 

Unable to find a suitable flat in London, Rama is gearing up to travel before moving abroad. “Living as a young [renter] in England, when you don't really have that solid ground, feels a little bit hopeless… That can take you on a dark mental path. Renting in the UK is a weird double-edged sword – you almost feel falsely imprisoned by the rental sector, yet you can be evicted at any time.” 

Stay-at-home mum Paige, 25, also felt hopeless over her no-fault eviction. She was organising her four-year-old daughter’s birthday in March, picking out decorations and deciding on last-minute presents, when she received her eviction notice from her landlord. “The eviction made me wonder if I could even afford to have a birthday party for her anymore,” says Paige, who is speaking anonymously as her housing situation is still ongoing. “What if we were homeless for her birthday?” 


Paige had recently complained of mould that she claims landed her daughter in hospital. She believes this could be the motive for her eviction, but she’ll never know for sure. She still remains in the property beyond the two months' notice she was given to leave, as her new house is still in the process of being built.

“I’ve not left the house without barricading my front door, even just to take my daughter to nursery or go food shopping. I’m scared we will get locked out of our home,” she says.

“The most upsetting part was my daughter’s reaction. She understood what was going on, that we now don't have a home and we need to find another one. She was so upset about having to leave her family home.” 

Vicky Spratt, VICE’s former Life for Rent columnist and author of Tenants, The People on the Frontline of Britain's Housing Emergency, frequently speaks to renters experiencing housing stress because of an eviction. “They're in a state of psychological crisis. The process of being evicted, having your home taken away from you, having your agency taken away like that, is destabilising for everyone,” she says.

“It's especially traumatic for mothers with children who are then worried about where they're going to send their kids to school, where else they're going to be able to afford to live,” Spratt adds. “There are studies in the US that found that women with children who are evicted are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.”


She says it's important to “humanise eviction” by focusing on the tenant impact. “Academic Saskia Sassen describes eviction as the end of a chain of financial decisions that begin somewhere in a bank, pass through the landlord, and end up with a tenant. But the human cost of that chain is distress and instability, and in some cases, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts.” 

Spratt also notes that the trauma of eviction isn’t necessarily over once you’re re-homed, which might be why my partner and I still feel displaced despite moving into another rental. “It’s like if a partner cheats on you. It might take a while to feel safe around that person again,” she explains. “Having your home taken away from you similarly violates your trust and your sense of security.”

In 2021, 29-year-old Fay Whitfield moved into a flat in Bristol with her boyfriend. The property seemed perfect, and was in an area that had everything they needed, including a farm Fay started volunteering at to help with her mental health. In May, the pair received a no-fault eviction notice. “The whole process of trying to find somewhere has been exhausting and a full time job in itself,” she says. “It definitely impacted our work.”

Whitfield’s landlord then started refusing to replace broken amenities, and even sent his mortgage company round to do a valuation while they were home. “I was really worried then that he would put the flat back up for rent or sell it. I was right.”

The couple are struggling to find a property in the same area, and worry they might have to move out of the city due to climbing rents. “Bristol’s lettings market is oversaturated,” she says. “There was one property that was taken within an hour of being online.”

Research has shown that renters have lower levels of happiness and higher levels of stress than homeowners. Considering over 75 percent of renters believe having a longer-term or indefinite tenancy would make it easier for them to plan ahead in their lives, the looming threat of potential no-fault eviction is likely contributing to these patterns. There are already enough weird restrictions in place stopping rental properties from fully feeling like a home – like not being able to hang a picture or get a dog – but no-fault evictions are taking this to the extreme, with one in five renters worrying they are next.

Banning no-fault evictions is the obvious baby step in removing just a smidge of power from landlords, and giving tenants that little bit more autonomy. Our homes shouldn’t be someone else’s investment to be pulled out any time. Put simply: our homes should be our homes.