Posted 14 Jun 2016
350,000 renters put at risk of eviction in the last year – equivalent to more than the population of Leicester
Alarming new figures from housing charity Shelter have revealed more than 148,000 renting households in England were put at risk of losing their home in the past year – equivalent to 350,000 renters.
In new analysis of statistics from the Ministry of Justice, Shelter identified 'home threat hotspots' across the country where renters face the greatest risk of losing their home, which comes as a result of the chronic shortage of affordable homes combined with crippling welfare cuts.
Enfield topped the list with 1 in 23 rented homes under threat of eviction. This was followed by Barking and Dagenham (1 in 23), Havering (1 in 27) and Croydon (1 in 27).
But the problem stretches far beyond London. Areas such as Luton, with 1 in 28 rented homes at risk, Thurrock (1 in 34) and Peterborough (1 in 35) also made it into the country's top twenty 'home threat hotspots'.
Additionally, the volume of people facing eviction who are coming to Shelter for advice is getting higher and higher. In the past year alone, over 9,800 people facing eviction have called the Shelter helpline for advice and 500,000 people have visited the Shelter website's eviction advice pages.
Case study: Angela, is a 35 year old mum from Bristol. Last year, her landlord increased the rent which she couldn't afford to pay so was evicted, and she's been sofa-surfing with her five year old son for the past eight months.
"I'd managed to really build a home for my son, where we felt part of the community. It was really scary going from that to waiting for the bailiffs to throw us out. I desperately wanted to be in a position to tell my son that we were moving house but instead, we've been sofa surfing and relying on the good grace of friend's to let us stay.
"For me, home is the start of everything. It gives you more than an address; it gives you a life and a community base. For my son, it's just as important. I'm so worried about him and how this will affect him long-term. Luckily, we're still getting ongoing support from Shelter so I know we've always got someone to turn to for advice."
Nadeem Khan, helpline adviser for Shelter, said: "Every day at Shelter we hear from people who are struggling to keep up with their rent, many in total desperation after the court papers land on their doormat and the threat of being evicted becomes very real.
"It's natural to feel overwhelmed, but remember you're not alone – Shelter is here 365 days a year. So if you're struggling to keep up, or facing eviction and not sure what to do next, get expert advice as soon as possible. It can be the difference between losing your home and keeping it. Shelter is here to help at shelter.org.uk/advice or on 0808 800 4444."
Notes to editors
Map of England's 'home threat hotspots'
Table of England's top twenty 'home threat hotspots'
Number of renting households put at risk
Number of renters put at risk
Barking and Dagenham
- The top twenty 'home threat hotspots' in England are above. These are the areas of the country with the highest proportion of rented households at risk of losing their home. We identified home threat hotspots by comparing the total number of possession claims issued in the last twelve months in each area with the total number of renting households in the area.
- A possession claim is the first stage in a court process which can end with the loss of a home. Data on the number of possession claims issued in county courts by local authority is published by the Ministry of Justice. Data is from 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016.
- The number of rented households in each area is calculated using the 2011 Census and 2012-based household projections from the Office for National Statistics. The equivalent number of people is estimated using the average household size of rented households. This is from the English Housing Survey published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
- From May 2015 – May 2016, 9,818 people called the Shelter helpline for advice on eviction. This is based on an approximation and calculated through unique calls to the Helpline.
- The Shelter website received 500,000 unique England-based visitors between 1 June 2015 – 31 May 2016 seeking advice on eviction
5 top tips from Shelter's Helpline adviser Nadeem Khan on how to stay in your home
1. Get expert advice early – know your options. If you are struggling to pay your housing costs, talk to an expert adviser as soon as possible who can take you through your options and advise the next best steps for you. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/advice or call Shelter's free helpline on 0808 800 4444.
2. Make the rent your priority. Paying your rent should always be your number one priority. If you have other debts such as credit cards and phone bills you can take action to deal with these separately.
3. Respond to letters and phone calls. It's natural to want to keep your head down and hope it'll sort itself out but it's important to read everything your landlord or letting agent sends to you. Keep records of every letter and phone call.
4. Have a rainy day plan. It can take just one thing, like losing your job or falling ill, to put your home at risk. Avoid payday loans, as rising interest rates in future could make things much worse very quickly. There are usually much safer and cheaper alternatives.
5. Turn up for court hearings. If the worst comes to the worst, make sure you attend the possession hearing so that you can put your case to the judge. If you don't have legal representation you can be assigned a court duty solicitor on the day – Shelter is one organisation that provides that service across the country. Get advice from an organisation like Shelter as soon as you get the hearing date to give yourself the best possible chance.