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Housing

Number of tenants being evicted by landlords for rent arrears is highest since records began

Housing charities urged the government to freeze rents and unfreeze housing benefits.

The number of tenants being evicted by private landlords after falling behind on rent is the highest since records began, new government figures show.

New Ministry of Justice figures show that in April to June this year 4,831 court orders were issued for possession, compared to the last peak of 4,648 between April and June 2019. These refer to rent arrears cases, campaigners at Generation Rent say.

The government figures also show 3,405 households in the private rented sector were evicted by bailiffs in England between April and June, a 39 per cent increase on the previous quarter.

Mortgage claims, orders, warrants and repossessions have also soared since this time last year. Mortgage repossession claims increased from 2,499 to 3,476 (39 per cent), warrants from 525 to 2,419 (361 per cent) and repossessions by county court bailiffs from 45 to 770 (1,611 per cent).

Commenting on the number of renters evicted, Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “The number of court orders for evictions for rent arrears has never been higher. This is the aftermath of the pandemic when many renters didn’t get enough support to cover the rent and are now losing their homes.

“But it’s going to get worse as energy bills climb further and more people face a devastating choice between paying rent, heating their home, and putting food on the table.

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“Alongside a further package of financial support, the government must freeze rents and protect renters from eviction if they’re struggling to stay on top of rent.”

Shelter is warning that the total number of eviction proceedings is now back at pre-pandemic levels, before the eviction ban took effect, and fears the situation for renters will only get worse. 

Previous government figures warned that in the first three months of the year a quarter of households were found to be either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless because of losing a private tenancy (18,210 households) – an 94 per cent increase in one year.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “This week’s figures paint a grim picture of households across England unable to keep their heads above water as the cost of living crisis bites. People who don’t leave their home before the bailiff comes are the ones who have run out of options and have nowhere else to go. 

“Every day our emergency helpline supports people having to make impossible choices between putting food on the table or paying their rent. Housing costs are people’s biggest outgoing and those who have nothing left to cut back will soon be left with nowhere to call home. 

“The government must urgently unfreeze housing benefit so it covers the true cost of renting before more families are evicted and pushed into homelessness. Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister needs to get a grip and put ending the housing emergency at the top of their to-do list.”

The government figures also show an increase in the number Section 21 eviction claims – also known as ‘no-fault’ evictions. There were 5,104 Section 21 claims in April to June 2019, compared to 5,788 the same quarter in 2022, a 13 per cent increase. 

Additional research by Shelter found almost two in three (64 per cent) private renters said the current economic climate meant that, if they were evicted, they’d struggle to afford the costs of moving. 

Ameera, 47, is disabled and lives with her disabled children. They are facing eviction after being served a Section 21 eviction notice in April. She managed to temporarily pause the eviction, but the family have been told to leave their home in Sussex this week. 

Ameera, who receives housing benefit, was already only just managing to pay her rent which recently increased from £2,000 to £2,650 a month and is now struggling to find the money to cover moving as well as a new home to live in that meets her children’s needs. 

“My anxiety is rocketing, and the uncertainty of this situation is affecting my children too,” she says. “The clock is ticking and with so few affordable properties available, it’s a very real possibility that me and my kids will be homeless by the end of the week. 

“I was already struggling paying £2,650 a month in rent after my landlord increased the amount by £650. My housing benefit is just £1,200, it doesn’t cover half of my current rent and it definitely won’t cover an expensive, and unwelcome, move.  

“With so many costs spiralling and my housing benefit stagnant I already felt like I was up against the ropes but being evicted from my home feels like a knockout blow.”

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