14,000 renters face eviction as living costs soar

Posted 10 Feb 2022

New government figures, released today, reveal an increasing number of renters are facing eviction in England. Shelter warns that more renters are likely to lose their homes in the coming months as living costs continue to rise.

The new figures show that 14,123 landlords in England started court proceedings to evict tenants from their properties between October and December 2021, up by 43% on the previous quarter.

Private landlords are now starting as many court proceedings to evict tenants as they did before the pandemic. A total of 9,410 claims were made to court against tenants in the final quarter of 2021, compared to 9,676 in the same period in 2019.

The eviction ban helped keep many renters safe in their homes during the pandemic. Now this protection has gone, evictions are picking up and renters, who faced job losses and furlough, are struggling even more.

With its emergency helpline already under pressure, Shelter is warning that there will be a further wave of evictions to come as the living cost crisis bites.

Extensive polling, which was carried out for the charity by YouGov in November-December 2021, found that 275,000 private renting households had received an eviction notice in the previous month or were behind on their rent. This is equivalent to one in 17 private renting households being in real danger of losing their home this winter.

The living cost crisis is taking an increasing toll on households. 45% of private renters are more worried about becoming homeless because of the current economic situation and living costs.

Many renters are being forced to choose between putting food on the table, heating their homes or paying their rent. The charity’s poll of private renters found that:

  • Nearly a quarter (24%) were behind on their rent or constantly struggling to pay it.

  • Nearly a third (32%) had to cut back on food for them or their partner in the previous month.

  • One in six (17%) had fallen behind on paying their energy bills in the previous month.

Now that Covid protections, such as the eviction ban and £20 boost to Universal Credit are gone, and rising inflation and energy are bills surging, the charity is bracing itself to help people with nowhere else to turn. 

Osama Bhutta, Director of Campaigns at Shelter, said: “Right now, huge numbers of eviction notices are dropping on doormats across the country, and our services are working round the clock to help as many people as possible keep the bailiffs at bay.

“The reality is though that thousands more people are at risk of eviction. Soaring inflation and rocketing energy bills may be the final straw for many renters struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Many have no savings at all, and increasingly some are being forced to choose between feeding their families, heating their homes, or paying their rent. 

“While government measures, like the £65 million rent arrears fund, will help some, it won’t be enough to protect every family who is barely hanging onto their home. It’s time the government gave renters the financial lifeline they need by boosting support and reversing the damaging welfare cuts that have left people on the brink of destitution. In the meantime, we’ll continue to do everything we can at Shelter to support as many people as possible during these tough times.”

CASE STUDY: Rachel, her partner and her adult daughter are facing homelessness after being served an eviction notice on their privately rented home in Essex during the pandemic.

Rachel said: “Up until the pandemic, our rent was always paid on time. We were good tenants with a good relationship with our landlord. The pandemic was really tough, my partner was furloughed and I became the main breadwinner, which caused significant financial strain. When we struggled to pay the rent on time, we spoke to our landlord who was understanding and agreed a payment plan.

“We were taken aback in August 2020, when days after agreeing a new rolling tenancy our landlord served us notice and wanted us out by November. The landlord said they no longer wanted to rent out the property. Although we had no qualms with the reason, it placed us in an unfortunate situation. When the notice was initially served, we didn’t have any rent arrears. But now we’re behind after struggling to pay rent and save for a deposit all during a pandemic. 

“We are now in a situation where the bailiff letter is imminent, and we are about to become homeless. We cannot find any other places to rent because we’d fail landlord reference or credit checks now that we’re behind on rent, and we don’t have a guarantor or six months’ rent sitting in the bank which landlords and letting agents ask for if you fail credit checks. We are essentially homeless with no help from the council because we will be deemed as having made ourselves intentionally homeless. I never envisioned being in a position where I work yet I am homeless.”

Anyone who is worried about losing their home can contact Shelter for free and expert advice by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

About Shelter: Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home and fight the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and society. Shelter believes that home is everything. Learn more at www.shelter.org.uk.

About the Data:

Court proceedings statistics: The government’s Mortgage and landlord possession statistics (Table 8) show that there has been a 43% increase in all claims issued by landlords in England compared to the previous quarter. Total claims are 42% lower compared to the same period two years’ ago (Q4 2019), before the pandemic struck.

ClaimsSocial landlordPrivate landlordAccelerated procedureAll claims issued
Q4 20214,7135,8063,60414,123
Change compared to Q3 2021+31% +37% +77% +43%

Source Mortgage and Landlord Possession Statistics Quarterly - table 8 and Shelter analysis.

Shelter’s research: Shelter’s polling data is from research carried out by YouGov for Shelter. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th November – 6th December 2021 and was carried out online. 3,642 GB Adults (18+) in private rented accommodation responded. Data was weighted to be representative of private renters.

Population estimates have been calculated by Shelter using EHS data on private renters and ONS mid-year population estimates for children. Shelter has defined families as households with children living with them.

Private Renting Households
Unweighted Base3642
Weighted Base3642
%Number
Total at risk: I/we are falling behind with payments** OR received some kind of eviction notice in the last month* 6%275,152
The current economic situation/living costs has made me more worried about becoming homeless 45%1,995,742
Currently behind or constantly struggling24%1,083,302
Cut back on food for me/my partner32%1,428,130

*From question ‘Which, if any of the following have happened to you in the last month? (Please select all that apply)’

** From question ‘Some people can easily afford to pay their main outgoings, others find it more difficult to pay. Thinking about your situation NOW, how easy or difficult is it for you to pay your rent or mortgage?’