Notice of ‘homeless emergency’ as private renters face eviction

The proportion of private tenants threatened with eviction in England has risen by more than three-quarters in a year, a survey suggests, prompting a charity to warn of a rapidly evolving ‘homelessness emergency’.

According to Shelter’s polls, about 5 percent of private renters — the equivalent of 503,995 people across the country — say they’ve received an eviction notice or been threatened with eviction in the past month.

This is an increase of around 80% from a similar period last year, when 3% of respondents (equivalent to 279,376 people) reported it.

The survey of 2,000 private tenants in England between 26 October and 10 November was conducted by YouGov and funded by the Nationwide Building Society.

It found that 4% said they were late on their rent, amounting to 481,644 people.

Overall, about one in 12 (8%) private renters – the equivalent of 940,939 people across the country – are at risk of losing their home to threatened eviction or late rent, the findings suggest.

According to the survey, a quarter of private renters consistently struggle to pay their rent, up from 20% this time last year.

Shelter warned that the failure to increase housing benefit as private rents rise “means the rental crisis is fast becoming a homeless emergency.”

While the fall filing confirmed that many benefits will be increased in line with inflation from April, local housing benefit rates have not been increased and have remained at the same level since 2020.

Both Shelter and the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) are calling for this to be unblocked.

The government said it had provided financial support to vulnerable families and municipalities and pledged to end Section 21 “no-fault” evictions.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Nearly one million private renters are at risk of being kicked out of their homes this winter, with more to follow.

“Every day our emergency counselors receive heartbreaking calls – from mum skipping meals to pay rent to family terrified they will spend Christmas in a squalid homeless hostel.

“The government’s refusal to unfreeze housing benefit, when private rents are rising at record rates, means the rental crisis is fast becoming a homeless emergency.”

Chris Norris, policy director for the NRLA, said: “The vast majority of landlords want to help tenants stay in their homes wherever possible. However, the government must do more to support those most in need of help.

“This should include unlocking housing benefit rates. It is simply absurd that support for housing costs is linked to rents as they were three years ago, not as they are today.

“Ministers also need to address the supply crisis in the rental market. Recent tax hikes have only served to reduce the number of homes available for rent, while demand continues to remain strong. All of this is driving up rents and making access to housing more difficult.

“We are working with the Government to ensure that the system that replaces Section 21 foreclosures is fair and workable for responsible landlords and tenants alike.

“This must include ensuring that landlords can effectively address anti-social tenants and those with substantial rent arrears.”

A government spokesman said: ‘We know households are concerned about rising costs which is why we have announced the Energy Price Guarantee to help with bills over the winter, as well as payments of £1,200 million of the most vulnerable people.

“Councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their heads and we are giving them £316m this year to help prevent evictions and provide temporary housing.

“Ensuring a fair settlement for renters remains a priority for the Government, which is why we will deliver on our commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.”

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