Shelter warns 20,000 evictions could go ahead as legislation fails to go far enough

Posted 23 Mar 2020

Today the government has published its emergency legislation to suspend new eviction cases for three months during the Covid19 crisis. 

The legislation extends the notice period that landlords must give tenants before they can evict them through a court process, from two months to three. This does not go far enough to protect people and keep them in a safe home until this public health emergency has passed.  

On top of this, renters with an eviction case already in progress in the courts – an estimated 20,000 cases – could still be legally evicted and lose their home in the next three months.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Last week the government’s commitment to a temporary ban on evictions made renters across the country feel safer in their homes. But today’s watered-down measures risk homelessness and uncertainty at this worrying time.  

“It defies belief that while so much effort is going into a coordinated medical response to this pandemic, the government is prepared to allow so many evictions to continue – putting at risk not just those losing their homes, but also the people they are forced into contact with. 

“For the next three months as many as 20,000 eviction proceedings already in progress will go ahead, and eviction notices will continue to land on renter’s doormats. This means people trying to isolate or socially distance, and even some within the shielded group, could still lose their home in the coming weeks, and even more may face eviction by mid-June. 

“This emergency legislation must not continue in its current form. We need a wholesale and complete halt to all evictions so that no-one is left without a home during this public health emergency. Anything less is a huge risk we do not need to take.” 

Key statistics:

  • Shelter estimates 20,000 eviction cases already in progress in the courts could still go ahead – resulting in thousands of people losing their homes. 

  • Shelter estimates that over 1.2 million people in England living in a privately rented home have underlying health concerns or disabilities. 

Notes to editors:

  • 20,334 households faced eviction through court orders in April-June 2019. Shelter has assumed that a similar caseload will be seen in Q2 of 2020 as the average claim takes 12 weeks to reach the order stage. Shelter has assumed that a similar number of claims will have been submitted in Q1 of 2020 and will be processed through to order stage in Q2. Some additional households would also have been evicted through warrants, and repossessions through county court bailiffs. Ministry of Justice: Mortgage and Landlord Possession Statistics – Quarter 4: October to December 2019. 

  • Shelter estimates that over 1.2 million people in England in the privately rented sector underlying health issues or disabilities. Shelter has applied the proportion of those in the privately rented sector who said they have health issues or disability from the 2011 Census to the number of people living in the private rented sector in 2019/19. Office for National Statistics: Census 2011, table LC3408EW, and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, English Housing Survey 2018/19 Annex table 1.3.