Thousands of private renters made homeless as pandemic unfolds, which Shelter warns is just the beginning

Posted 20 Aug 2020

They show that between January and March 2020:

  • A quarter (25%) of households (19,160) who were facing homelessness and applied to their local council for assistance were renting from a private landlord at the time.

  • One in five (20%) households facing homelessness (15,130) lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private tenancy. Of these households, a quarter (25%) lost their tenancy as a result of rent arrears.

  • In just three months, almost 5,000 households were threatened with homelessness as a result of being served with a Section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction notice - equating to 12% of all households found to be threatened with homelessness.

  • At the time the Covid-19 crisis was unfolding, more than half (52%) of households found to be homeless by their local council were not helped to find a home.

  • Existing Shelter research shows almost 230,000 private renters in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started, which could put their home at risk. And despite the evictions ban, more than 170,000 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said: “Today’s figures show private renters were already badly affected by homelessness when the pandemic was just taking hold. Thousands more renters have since had their lives turned upside down as the country descends into economic free-fall.

“With daily news of new job cuts and the eviction ban set to lift on Monday, the coming months are likely to see a devastating homelessness crisis unfold unless the government steps in to safeguard people’s homes. Some may even face sleeping on the streets as councils struggle to cope with the intense pressure on oversubscribed services.

"As we know from our many years of fighting homelessness, it is so much harder to get back on your feet without a safe home. When Parliament returns in September, the government must change the law to give judges the power to stop renters being evicted because of Covid-19. As well as ensuring councils have the mandate and resources to help anyone facing homelessness during the undeniably stormy months ahead.”

ENDS

Anyone who is facing homelessness can get free and expert advice from Shelter by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help or by calling our emergency helpline on 0808 800 4444.

Notes to editors:

  • Following the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) in April 2018 the government (MHCLG) has changed the way it collects data from local councils on statutory homelessness. The HRA has given councils new duties to assess, prevent and relieve homelessness for anyone who is eligible for assistance.

  • The percentage of households who were facing homelessness and renting from a private landlord at the time of applying to their local council for assistance is the percentage of households owed a prevention or relief duty who were living in a private rented home at the time of application from January to March 2020. This is available at MHCLG, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Initial decisions, Table A4.

  • The percentage of households facing homelessness who lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private rented tenancy is the percentage of households who were owed a prevention or relief duty by the council who lost their last settled home due to the termination of an assured shorthold tenancy from January to March 2020. This is the second most common reason for loss, or threat of loss, of last settled home. This is available at MHCLG, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Initial decisions, Table A2.

  • 3,800 households lost their private tenancy due to rent arrears. This is the number of households owed a prevention or relief duty who lost their assured shorthold private tenancy due to rent arrears from January to March 2020. This is available at MHCLG, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Initial decisions, Table A2.

  • 38,450 households were found to be threatened with homelessness and owed a prevention duty between January and March 2020, including 4,740 households who were served with a valid Section 21 notice. This is available at MHCLG, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Initial decisions, Table A1.

  • To calculate the percentage of homeless households who have not been helped to secure a home we have included households for whom the 56 days have elapsed, households the council have lost contact with and households who refused the final accommodation. 40% of households were helped to secure a home at the end of the relief duty and 8% of households were no longer owed a relief duty for various reasons. The figures are for January to March 2020. This is available at MHCLG, Live tables on homelessness, Statutory homelessness live tables, Relief duty outcomes, Table R1

  • An estimated 226,785 adult private renters (3%) have fallen into arrears since the start of the pandemic and 174,359 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent (accounting for 6% who’ve had some contact since March 2020 or 2% of private tenants overall). This is based on a YouGov survey of 1,058 private renters in England, online, 16+, weighted to be presentative of England’s private renters using official statistics, fieldwork 4th June to 11th June 2020.

  • Estimated equivalent numbers of people are calculated by Shelter using the survey results in conjunction with statistics from the English Housing Survey, MHCLG, 2018/19, the Census and ONS population estimates by single year. We estimate there to be 8.675 million adult private renters in England. This is a different figure to the number of homes, which will be smaller.

  • A quarter (25%) of households (19,160) who were facing homelessness and applied to their local council for assistance were renting from a private landlord at the time.

  • One in five (20%) households facing homelessness (15,130) lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private tenancy. Of these households, a quarter (25%) lost their tenancy as a result of rent arrears.
    In just three months, almost 5,000 households were threatened with homelessness as a result of being served with a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice - equating to 12% of all households found to be threatened with homelessness.

  • At the time the Covid-19 crisis was unfolding, more than half (52%) of households found to be homeless by their local council were not helped to find a home.

  • Existing Shelter research shows almost 230,000 private renters in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started, which could put their home at risk. And despite the evictions ban, more than 170,000 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent.

  • A quarter (25%) of households (19,160) who were facing homelessness and applied to their local council for assistance were renting from a private landlord at the time.

  • One in five (20%) households facing homelessness (15,130) lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private tenancy. Of these households, a quarter (25%) lost their tenancy as a result of rent arrears.

  • In just three months, almost 5,000 households were threatened with homelessness as a result of being served with a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice - equating to 12% of all households found to be threatened with homelessness.

  • At the time the Covid-19 crisis was unfolding, more than half (52%) of households found to be homeless by their local council were not helped to find a home.

  • Existing Shelter research shows almost 230,000 private renters in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started, which could put their home at risk. And despite the evictions ban, more than 170,000 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent.

  • A quarter (25%) of households (19,160) who were facing homelessness and applied to their local council for assistance were renting from a private landlord at the time.