‘Many will end up homeless’: Charity warns end of eviction ban will leave tenants with nowhere to go
In March 2020, the Government introduced legislation which stated bailiffs could only evict tenants if more than six months’ rent was owed, or a landlord was dealing with an illegal occupation, ongoing anti-social behaviour or a tenant who provided a false statement. The temporary ban has been extended several times since, it has provided much-needed security to renters at a time of profound economic and social disruption. That ban on evictions has now ended.
The ending of the ban has left around a million households in fear of losing their homes, a charity says.
Around 1 million households in rented properties are worried about being kicked out over the next three months as the government ban on bailiff-enforced evictions ends today.
About 400,000 renters have had eviction notices or been told to expect them, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says.
The charity commissioned YouGov to question more than 10,000 adults, a quarter of them renters, in England, Wales and Scotland, early in May.
On the day the eviction ban ends, a large-scale survey reveals:
- Around 400,000 renting households have either been served an eviction notice or have been told they may be evicted (5% of all renters).
- Around a million renting households are worried about being evicted in the next three months (11% of all renters), half of which are families with children.
- 1.7 million renting households are worried about paying their rent over the same period (20%) of all renters).
- Although renters are faring significantly worse than homeowners, their support has been cut while wealthier homeowners continue to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday.
The temporary ban on bailiff-enforced evictions introduced in March 2020 and extended several times since, has provided much-needed security to renters at a time of profound economic and social disruption. But the new survey of over 10,000 households, commissioned by JRF and conducted by YouGov, reveals clear warning signs that point to a spike in evictions and homelessness as the ban lifts. In addition to the 400,000 already expecting to be evicted, around 450,000 households are currently in arrears with rent and almost a fifth of this group (18%) have been in arrears for more than four months, meaning landlords in England will only be required to give four weeks’ notice of eviction when the ban lifts.
There are 1.7 million households who are worried about paying their rent over the next three months and 450,000 are currently in arrears, JRF added, while Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) households, families with children and those on lower incomes are more likely to be worried about eviction.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation economist Rachelle Earwaker said many renters in low income work such as catering or taxi driving had lost their livelihoods in the pandemic and ending the eviction ban risks “a two-tier recovery”.
“We’re really worried that there will be a wave of homelessness coming through,” said Ms Earwaker.
JRF said the temporary ban on bailiff-enforced evictions introduced in March 2020 – and extended several times since – has provided much-needed security to renters during the pandemic.
Its survey of more than 10,000 households suggested “clear warning signs” of a spike in evictions and homelessness as the ban lifts, the report said.
Around 400,000 are expecting to be evicted and a further 450,000 households are in arrears with rent, JRF said.
Ms Neate said Shelter has teamed up with the National Residential Landlords Association to propose a package of short-term financial measures to help tenants – but stressed the need for long-term solutions.
“In the longer term, the government must reform private renting,” she said.
“It has committed to do that, but the renter’s reform bill that is promised really needs to happen quick, this is quite urgent.
“And, [in the] long-term, there is absolutely no choice but to invest in building social homes that people who are on low or modest incomes can actually afford to rent.
“Because the root cause of this problem is we don’t have enough homes in this country that are genuinely affordable.”
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “The lifting of the eviction ban signals the beginning of the end for many renters facing homelessness. Thousands of people will wake up on June 1 knowing they’ll soon be kicked out of their home, with nowhere to go.
“The ban has been a lifeline for private renters who have weathered job losses, falling incomes and rising debts in this pandemic. But what happens now? Longer notice periods, while they last, will give some worried renters valuable time.
“But come September, anyone facing eviction will have just weeks to find somewhere else to live.”
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, an organisation representing private renters, described the government’s decision to end the ban as “reckless”.
“If the government doesn’t intervene, thousands of homeless families could be turning to their council for help,” she said.
“We can’t build back better without financial support for the renters who have been hit hardest.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that 45% of private landlords own just one property and are highly vulnerable to rent arrears.
It said there was financial support to help people pay their living expenses, including the furlough scheme and the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift, which have both been extended until the end of September.
Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said: “As Covid restrictions are eased in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.”
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said expecting landlords and tenants to “muddle through” was a failed strategy.
“The government needs to develop a financial package which ensures that benefits cover the rents of those in receipt of them,” he said.
JRF is calling for a targeted package of grants to support renters in arrears, administered through the existing Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) system. The £180m currently available through DHPs this year is nowhere near sufficient to support the 450,000 renters in arrears. A boost to DHP payments, together with improved guidance and ring-fenced funding for arrears, would be sufficient to re-set the housing market and enable renters to recover economically at pace with the rest of the country.
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