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Number of renters being evicted triples in a year after Covid ban is axed

Dan Bloom

September 15, 2022

The number of renters being evicted has tripled in a year after a Covid ban was axed. Figures released last month (August) show there were 4,900 landlord repossessions of rented homes in the three months to June - up 210% on the same period a year earlier. The number - which applies to England and Wales - is still below levels before Covid hit.

But it is set to rise further. There were 18,201 possession claims from landlords, made to the courts, in the three months - a rise of 160% on the year earlier. There were 14,319 orders for possession (up 164%) and 7,728 warrants (up 104%). The number of warrants to seize the property of homeowners behind on their mortgages also rose by 496%, from 400 to 2,832.

Crisis said there were 1,651 no fault evictions – a 52% increase in just three months. Kiran Ramchandani of the charity said: “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.

“Through our services, we’re seeing a growing number of our members facing eviction now the pandemic protections have been removed.

“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.”

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, 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.

“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. The Prime Minister needs to get a grip and put ending the housing emergency at the top of their to-do list.”

The ban on residential evictions was extended several times during the Covid pandemic, including at a few days’ notice in February 2021. That caused flurries of last-minute pleas from housing charities before restrictions on bailiffs eventually did end in England.

The government said in a statistics release: “Residual Covid restrictions have all been lifted and bailiffs are now working to reduce backlogs.

“Although numbers remain about 33% below pre-Covid-19 levels, they are rising steadily, when compared to the same period last quarter.”

The figures pre-date a surge in interest rates, which has pushed up the cost of mortgages and in turn rents. It also came before energy bills were set to skyrocket to more than £4,200 a year from January, which charities warn will leave millions choosing between heating and eating. Tory ministers have held crunch meetings with energy firms over soaring bills.

A Treasury source had said all options were being kept open, including expanding the 25% windfall tax on oil and gas producers - who are not the same as the supplier firms in last month's meetings.

Gordon Brown called for energy firms to be temporarily re-nationalised as a “last resort” until “the crisis is over”.

Energy supplies’ ‘actual costs’ should be assessed, social tariffs and standing charges made fairer, and separate company agreements negotiated to keep prices down, he said, while businesses should cut consumption.

Mr Brown wrote in The Guardian: “If the companies cannot meet these new requirements, we should consider all the options we used with the banks in 2009.

“Guaranteed loans, equity financing and, if this fails, as a last resort, operate their essential services from the public sector until the crisis is over.”

© Dan Bloom, 2022.

Image - Richard Hoare


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