Households facing homelessness highest since records began

Posted 25 Jul 2023

Shelter urges no more delays on the Renters Reform Bill as homelessness surges

New government figures show 79,840 households faced homelessness in England between January and March 2023 – the highest number on record.

A major contributing factor to rising homelessness is the instability of private renting, with the loss of a private tenancy now the leading cause. This accounts for 29% of households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

One of the main reasons for this instability is Section 21 no fault evictions, which allow landlords to evict a tenant with just two months’ notice, without having to give any reason. 24,060 households were threatened with homelessness as a result of a Section 21 no-fault eviction in the last year – up by 21% compared to the previous 12 months.

In May, the government published its Renters (Reform) Bill to ban Section 21 evictions and introduce overdue protections for renters, but since then the Bill has failed to make any progress through Parliament. Shelter is urging the government to prioritise the Renters (Reform) Bill as soon as it returns from Summer recess.

The charity is also calling on the Secretary of State for Housing, Michael Gove, to make his ambition to build tens of thousands of new homes for social rent a reality, to ease the pressure on private renting and curb homelessness.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “With record numbers of people becoming homeless, the time for empty words on building social homes and overdue promises on ending no fault evictions has long past. No-fault evictions are fuelling homelessness and throwing thousands of families’ lives into turmoil. We need decisive action, not lip service, before this crisis gets even worse.

“When MPs return from their summer break in September, the Renters Reform Bill needs to come back with them, and it must be made law at the earliest opportunity. But to end homelessness for good, we need genuinely affordable homes. The Secretary of State, Michael Gove, agrees social homes are essential to solving the housing emergency, so it's time for his government to get on and build them."

Anyone who is facing homelessness can get free and expert advice from Shelter by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help.  

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

  • 79,840 households were owed a prevention or relief duty between January and March 2023. These figures are available at DLUHC, Statutory Homelessness Live tables, Table A1. This is the highest number in a single quarter on record. Records began in 2018 when statutory homelessness duties changed.

  • 23,460 households were found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness due to end of a private tenancy in Q1 2023. This is the number of households who lost their last settled home due to the end of an AST, or the End of non-AST private rented tenancy. This accounted for 29% of households who were found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness in this quarter. The second most common trigger was ‘family or friends no longer willing or able to accommodate’. This accounted for 23,160 households. These figures are available from: DLUHC, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory Homelessness Live Tables, Table A2P and A2R.

  • 24,060 households approached their council and were found to be threatened with homelessness due to receiving a valid section 21 notice between April 2022 and March 2023. To be classified as ‘threatened with homelessness’ by their council, a household must be at risk of losing their home in the next 56 days (8 weeks). This is 21% higher compared to the same period twelve months prior (April 2021 to March 2022) (19,930). This is available at: DLUHC, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory Homelessness Live Tables, Table A1. A ban on bailiff's evictions was in place during the early months of 2021. It ended on the 31 May 2021. Landlords could still serve section 21 notices during this time.

    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.