Almost a million private renters are under threat of eviction

Posted 30 Nov 2022

Shelter urges public to support its urgent appeal as thousands of people face homelessness

One in 12 private renters in England – equivalent to 941,000 people - are currently under threat of eviction, according to new research from the housing charity Shelter.

The charity’s polling, conducted by YouGov and funded by Nationwide Building Society, found that of those at risk of eviction, 504,000 private renters had received or been threatened with an eviction notice in the last month, up 80% on the same period last year, and 482,000 are behind on their rent, putting their home in danger.

Shelter is warning the government’s failure to unfreeze housing benefit in its autumn statement ignores the rental crisis that is unfolding across the country and will result in rising homelessness this winter.  

Record high rents and soaring living costs mean the fear of becoming homeless is looming large over millions of people stuck living in insecure private rentals. The charity’s research also found:

  • A quarter of private renters - equivalent to 2.8 million people – are constantly struggling to pay their rent, an increase of 24% compared to the same period last year.

  • More than two thirds (69%) of private renters – equivalent to 7.7 million people – would struggle to find a suitable home this winter if they were evicted.

In response, Shelter is calling on the public to support its frontline services who are working seven days a week to help as many people as possible to find, or keep hold of, a safe home.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “Almost a million private renters are at risk of being of being kicked out of their home this winter, and more will follow. Every day our emergency helpline advisers are taking gut-wrenching calls - from the mum who’s skipping meals to pay the rent to the family terrified they will be spending Christmas in a grotty homeless hostel.

“The government’s refusal to unfreeze housing benefit, when private rents are rising at record rates, means the rental crisis is fast becoming a homelessness emergency. At Shelter we are doing all we can to help people keep the bailiffs at bay, but we’ve got our work cut out.

“Shelter’s frontline services are working seven days a week to help people weather the storm, but as more people turn to us, we need the public’s support more than ever this winter.”

Case study: Dave, 51, is disabled and lives in a one-bed house in Woking with his 16-year-old son. He has been served a Section 21 no-fault eviction by his landlord and is currently awaiting a court date. He is worried him and his son could end up homeless as he cannot find another private rental he can afford. Dave’s housing benefit, which is supposed to cover a two-bed rental in his local area but is frozen at 2020 levels, does not even cover the cost of many studio apartments.

Speaking about his experience, Dave said: “I burst into tears when I got the section 21. The possibility of getting one is always there in the background, but it was still a shock.

“It’s been impossible to find somewhere new. There are so many places advertised, but they’re all a couple of hundred pounds more than my housing benefit. The local housing allowance is a joke. For a two-bedroom house in Woking the LHA rate is £1200 a month, and yet I’m seeing studio flats going for £1400. And if you find one you can afford, as soon as letting agents hear benefits, they don’t want to know.

“The last time I received a section 21, I ended up sofa surfing for about three months. It’s going to be the same thing again this time I know. I’m in my 50s, I shouldn’t have to go through that. I try to shield my son from it. On the surface you wouldn’t think it’s affecting him, but I know it is. And I have trouble sleeping all the time. I’m sick with worry about what will happen to us.”

To help Shelter support more people fighting for their home visit: www.shelter.org.uk/donate.

END

Notes to editors:

About the Research: All data, unless otherwise stated, is from a YouGov survey for Shelter of 2,000 Private Renters in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26 October and 10 November 2022. The survey was carried out Online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults in England (aged 18+). Population figures have been calculated using English Housing Survey data.

% of Private Renting Adults Number of Private Renting Adults 
Private renters who are under threat of eviction (people who had received or been threatened with an eviction notice and/or are behind on their rent) 8%940,939
Private renters who had received an eviction notice or been threatened with eviction in the last month5%503,995
Private renters who are behind on their rent4% 481,644
Private renters who are constantly struggling to pay their rent 25% 2,781,469
Private renters who would struggle to find a suitable home this winter if they were evicted69% 7,713,017

Comparisons are to a YouGov survey for Shelter of 3,642 Private Renters in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11 November and 6 December 2021. The survey was carried out online.

% of Private Renting Adults Number of Private Renting Adults 
Private renters who had received an eviction notice or been threatened with eviction in the last month3% 279,376
Private renters who are constantly struggling to pay their rent 20%2,237,244

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.

Anyone who is facing homelessness can get free and expert advice through Shelter’s free emergency helpline, webchat service and online advice pages. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/get_help to find out more.

About Shelter’s Winter Appeal 2022: Join Shelter now in the fight against homelessness and bad housing. Our expert advisers are working with communities across the country, they are taking calls at our emergency helpline, and they are giving online advice to millions through our website.  But as more people turn to Shelter, we need the public to help us be there. Give what you can and together we can provide free advice and support to thousands of families facing homelessness this winter. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/donate.