A disabled Okehampton resident, who fell victim to a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice, has condemned a housing association's decision to sell a flat suitable for a disabled person during a housing crisis.

Richard Ellis received an eviction notice for his previous home, which he rented privately, while in hospital recovering from an above-the-knee leg amputation.

Since November 2023, he has been in temporary accommodation provided by West Devon Borough Council just outside Okehampton while waiting for an accessible rental property.

He recently found a suitable property on Wonnacotts Road, owned by the housing association LiveWest, only to find that the company had put the property up for auction.

He said: "Even if I couldn't get the place – it's not about that – it's about them taking away a flat designed for a disabled person. These flats are few and far between and LiveWest selling it is a disgrace. The wider issue for me is that we're obviously in a housing crisis. Social housing is dwindling."

Mr Ellis's situation has prompted local parliamentary candidates to rally behind him and sparked conversations surrounding the housing shortage and the need to abolish Section 21 orders.

Labour parliamentary candidate for Central Devon, Ollie Pearson, said: "This is really distressing. This shouldn't be happening in the 21st century in Britain. It's why we need the new homes a Labour government would build."

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Mark Wooding, added: "Section 21 orders are entirely to the benefit of the landlord and not the tenant. Section 21 notices have been widely abused as owners have seen the significantly greater profits they can make by turning rented property into so-called 'Airbnb' lets. Reform is urgently needed.

"There is a more general problem in housing. Put simply, the country is not building sufficient properties of modern construction that the housing associations can acquire.”

LiveWest explained that it decided to sell the property in question because bringing it up to the required Energy Performance Certificate rating (EPC) would involve "significant investment." By law, a landlord cannot let a property with an EPC rating below E.

Glynnis Poole, director of investment and sustainability for LiveWest, said: “When a home becomes vacant, we review the investment needs of the property and its long-term suitability as an affordable home. “In the case of this home, we identified that significant investment was required to bring the home up to modern environmental standards and ensure that it is energy efficient and cost effective to run.  

“Our focus is on providing sustainable, affordable homes for our customers and we have taken the decision to sell the property on the basis the home will not achieve our long-term aim of Carbon Net Zero. 

“All of the proceeds from the sale will be used to fund more new energy-efficient affordable homes in Devon and we continue to work with local authority partners to adapt homes where required.

“We are planning to build around 1,800 new affordable homes in Devon over the next five years as part of our plans to invest £1bn in the South West economy.”

The Conservative, Reform UK and Green Party parliamentary candidates were also approached for comment.

The LiveWest property on Wonnacotts Road, Okehampton which is currently up for sale
The LiveWest property on Wonnacotts Road, Okehampton which is currently up for sale (Submitted)