Charities call on government to protect renters during cost of living crisis
Ministers must do more to protect people renting homes during the cost of living crisis, a charity has warned after official figures showed evictions have more than tripled in a year.
A temporary ban on evictions for people living in private and social homes in England was brought in by the government during the Covid pandemic to help those struggling to pay their rent due to reduced income.
But since it was lifted evictions have begun to rise. Ministry of Justice data published on Thursday showed there were 4,900 landlord repossessions of rented homes in the three months to June 2022 – an increase of 210 per cent in the same period a year earlier.
Homeless charity Crisis said that 1,651 of that total were ‘no-fault’ evictions – where a landlord does not have to give the tenant a reason for evicting them. This was an increase of 52 per cent in just three months, according to Crisis.
The number of evictions was still well below pre-Covid levels but looked set to rise, with landlords making 18,201 claims to the courts in the three month period – a rise of 160 per cent on the previous year.
There were 14,319 orders for possession (up 164 per cent) and 7,728 warrants (up 104 per cent).
Meanwhile, the number of warrants to seize the property of homeowners behind on their mortgages also rose by 496 per cent, from 400 to 2,832.
Crisis said it is growing increasingly concerned by the lack of action to support renters amidst the intensifying cost of living crisis.
It is calling on the Conservative leadership candidates to publicly back the Renters Reform Bill, which it said would strengthen tenant rights.
The charity is also calling on the government to scrap no fault evictions, alongside unfreezing housing benefits so that people can afford to find and keep a home.
“It’s impossible to comprehend that as the cost of living crisis deepens, thousands of renters are being forced from their homes at a time when many simply won’t be able to afford to find a new one,” Kiran Ramchandani, the charity’s director of policy and external affairs, said.
“Through our services, we’re seeing a growing number of our members facing eviction now the pandemic protections have been removed.”
Ms Ramchandani added: “These are people in desperate situations now facing the terrifying prospect of having to stump up the thousands needed for a deposit on a new rental home, when they’re already struggling to keep the lights on. We cannot be clearer that people need help now.
“The government must open its eyes to the looming crisis facing renters. The new Prime Minister must commit to introducing the Renters Reform Bill, which will help give renters proper protection from being hit with a no-fault eviction and unfreeze housing benefit so people can afford to find and keep a home in the long run. Only this action will ensure we don’t see thousands more pushed into homelessness in the difficult months to come.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, the housing charity said: “Today’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.”
Ms Neate added: “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 Ministry of Justice said in a statement accompanying the figures: “Residual Covid restrictions have all been lifted and bailiffs are now working to reduce backlogs.
“Although numbers remain about 33 per cent below pre-Covid-19 levels, they are rising steadily, when compared to the same period last quarter.”