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Number of renters facing eviction at ‘highest level ever’

The government has been urged to "throw renters a lifeline" amid warning thousands of tenants will lose their homes this winter

Landlords are hauling tenants before the courts in droves as renters struggle to cover rents during the cost of living crisis. Image: Informed Images / Flickr

The government has been urged to “throw renters a lifeline” as new government statistics showed the number of tenants facing eviction is surging during the cost of living crisis.

More than 3,700 households were evicted from private rented homes in England between July and September, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics have revealed.

The number of evicted households rose 10 per cent in just three months while the number of possession claims to courts from landlords has more than doubled from 10,202 to 21,012 in a year. The number of possession orders issued to county court bailiffs almost tripled over the same period to 15,352.

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Thousands of private renters have experienced the trauma of the bailiffs removing them from their home, and thousands more will face the same fate as the cost of living crisis escalates,” said Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter. The charity said on Thursday seven out of 10 calls to its emergency helpline are reporting the cost of living crisis making housing situations worse.

Neate added: “Shelter is working seven days a week to help people fight for their home, but the government has to throw renters a lifeline or homelessness will spiral. With the budget just around the corner, the government must use this opportunity to unfreeze housing benefit before it’s too late.”

The MoJ’s statistician said the number of private landlord possession claims has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels and is at the “highest level ever”.

The figures are likely to strengthen calls for an eviction ban over the winter period – as the Westminster government introduced during the pandemic in 2020 and the Scottish government has already introduced this year.

There have also been calls for a rent freeze from rent campaign groups in England and Wales after Scottish leaders blocked rent rises until March next year.

Rents have risen to record levels over the last year with a shortage of rental homes in the face of huge demand. Generation Rent has called for rents to be frozen and warned in August that 45 per cent of its members were facing a hike to their monthly payments.

“Private renters are under stress like never before. The rising cost of living has pushed thousands into rent arrears, who now face homelessness as their landlords seek eviction,” said Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director, Generation Rent.

“Even staying on top of rent is not enough for other renters, whose landlords are using section 21 eviction notices to force them out without needing a reason. These properties will often end up back on the market at a much higher rent.

“Renters are relying on the chancellor to take emergency steps next week to keep them in their homes and stop rents from worsening the cost of living crisis. We need Jeremy Hunt to freeze rents, suspend no-fault evictions, and re-link Local Housing Allowance rates to market rents.”

The MOJ figures also showed the number of households with mortgages facing eviction has increased significantly in the last year. 

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The number of homes repossessed by county court bailiffs increased by 91 per cent compared to September 2021, rising from 390 possessions to 744 as interest rates continued to rise throughout the year.

The Big Issue has launched the Big Futures campaign to call for long-term efforts to build affordable housing for all in a bid to break the cycle of poverty and protect future generations. 

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