Renters put at risk

Renters put at risk

Introduction

We all hope we never go through the devastating experience of losing our home. But every day at Shelter, we see families in this position. It can take just one simple thing, like your landlord wanting to sell-up, to put your home at risk.

Mercifully, low interest rates, pre-action protocols and support for homeowners are keeping the number of possession claims by mortgage lenders at relatively low levels.

However, welfare reforms, the growth of the private rented sector, the spiralling costs of renting and the shortage of affordable homes mean that hundreds of thousands of renters are being threatened with eviction each year.

Our new research explores the number of rented households put at risk of eviction in England over the past year at a local, regional and national level.

To do this, we looked at the number of possession claims that have been lodged in a court in the last twelve months. A possession claim is the first stage of the legal process, which can result in a person or family being evicted. Not all possession claims lead to possession orders, and not all possession orders lead to the loss of the home and eviction. But receiving a possession claim means a household is subject to a legal process where their home is at risk.

Our analysis shows that there are ‘hotspots’ of eviction, where as many as one in every 23 renting households were put at risk in the past year. London local authorities dominate the list, but this is not just a London problem. In total 148, 039 renting households across England received a possession claim in the last twelve months – equivalent to around 350,000 people put at risk of losing their home.

Over the same period, 41,154 renting households lost their battle and were evicted by bailiffs. Worryingly, these numbers are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. At Shelter we hear from renters who have been served with an eviction notice, and rather than challenging it, incurring court costs and experiencing further difficulties, just leave on the date requested by their landlord. We don’t know the exact number of people forced out this way. But it’s a substantial issue that is not reflected in the statistics.

It is also important to note that the data only covers cases where a possession claim has been made and a court process has begun. Landlords may negotiate with tenants and reach agreements that do not require court proceedings, yet still lead to a renter losing their home.

Shelter helps 4 million people a year fight bad housing and homelessness through its online, telephone and face to face services. We operate a free helpline that is open 365 days a year and can provide expert advice to anyone who has received a possession claim, is fighting a court order or is worried that they will be made homeless by bailiffs.

If you or someone you know are struggling to keep up, or facing eviction and not sure what to do next, get expert advice as soon as possible. Shelter is here to help at shelter.org.uk/advice or on 0808 800 4444.

ORGANIZATION: Shelter UK
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016