814,000 private renters under threat of eviction this winter

Posted 14 Nov 2023

814,000 private renters under threat of eviction this winter

New research from Shelter exposes the turmoil facing private renters in England as 1 in 10 – equivalent to 814,000 adults - are now at risk of losing their homes. The figure rises to an estimated 1.1 million people if you include the children in the household. 

To calculate how many people are threatened with losing their home this winter, the charity looked at the number of private renting adults who have received or been threatened with an eviction notice in the last month (474,000), as well as the number of tenants who are behind on their rent (411,000), which puts their home in danger.  

The survey, conducted by YouGov and funded by Nationwide Building Society, showed that rocketing rents and rising evictions have left millions of private renters in England fearing the worst, with 3.5 million tenants (43%) saying they are now worried about becoming homeless due to housing costs. 

Shelter argues the severe lack of affordable social homes means that millions of struggling households are trapped trying to pay record high rents and keep a roof over their heads.  A situation it says is being made much worse by the government’s nearly four-year freeze on housing benefit, which has left any support available falling far short of the cost of actual rents.  The charity’s latest findings further expose the immense financial strain tenants are under: 

  • More than 2 in 5 (43%) private renters who are struggling or behind with their rent - equivalent to 2.4 million adults - say this is due to the increase in payments.  

  • More than 3 in 10 (31%) – equivalent to 2.5 million adults - have borrowed money in order to pay their rent.  

  • 1 in 7 (14%) – equivalent to 1.1 million adults - have had their rent put up in the last month.  

In addition to calling on the government to immediately end the freeze on housing benefit, Shelter is calling on the public to support its frontline services as they continue to help people fighting to find, or keep hold of, a safe home this winter. The charity’s expert advisers give advice to millions of people through its emergency helpline, webchat, face to face teams and website, www.shelter.org.uk/get_help  

Esther, 55, works as a therapist and has 2 children, aged 11 and 19. She received an eviction notice earlier this year after her landlord asked for possession. Since then, there’s also been a rent increase and she is now struggling to find somewhere she can afford to rent with her family.

“When I was told I needed to leave my heart sank, I’d lived in my area for over 20 years and the landlord put up the rent by £250. I tried to put on a brave face but I came under a lot of pressure. Each time I move it costs so much and is very disruptive for my children. My youngest has settled in school, is happy and has friends. When I moved last time, at least we were still in the same area with our support system. When I told her we may have to move again, she was devastated. 

“I have searched for months but homes were either too expensive or couldn’t fit my whole family. I did everything I could, I approached letting agents, contacted the council and used Shelter’s advice pages. I was told so many things, that I didn’t earn enough or that the landlord wouldn’t accept kids or pets. One time, I put that I received Universal Credit support and I never heard from the agents again. Another, a housing association property became available but the council sold it instead. That was one of the many low days, I went home and cried. 

“We now face homelessness and the unknown this winter, squeezed on all sides. I’m doing my best to protect my children for the storms to come. I just want a safe and secure home for my children to grow up in.” 

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter said: “A terrible winter of evictions lies ahead as millions of renters’ grapple with runaway rents and the enduring cost of living crisis. Every day our frontline teams take more calls from families living the nightmare of rent rises they cannot afford. And every day we speak to more families facing the horror of losing their home. 

“Shelter will continue to be there so that no-one has to weather this storm alone, but as more people are forced to turn to us, we need the public’s support more than ever. We also need the government to step in.  With private rents rising faster than many people can cope with, the government must pull families back from the brink of homelessness by immediately unfreezing housing benefit so they can pay their rent and keep hold of their home.” 

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

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 Research: All figures are from a YouGov survey for Shelter of 1937 private renting adults (18+) in England, of whom, 1,139 were struggling with or behind on their rent. The survey was conducted online from the 18th October – 17th November 2023. Results have been weighted to be representative of private renters in England. Population numbers have been calculated independently by Shelter using English Housing Survey data.