Just over half a million people are “at risk of being kicked out of their home this winter”, Shelter’s Chief Executive Polly Neate told ITV last night.
This figure has been achieved by rolling the number of tenants in the PRS threatened with, or served, eviction notices over the past month (502,000) with the 482,000 who are currently behind with their rent.
Describing the eviction process – whether via a Section 8 or Section 21 notice – as a ‘petrifying and painful process’ for tenants who fall behind in their rent, ITV’s Dan Hewitt (main picutre) interviewed several tenants facing eviction who were in difficult financial circumstances.
ITV News, which ran versions of Hewitt’s bulletin at both teatime and 10pm last night, pinned the looming rise in evictions on the Government’s ongoing decision to freeze Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for the UK’s 1.2 million private renters in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
This represents approximately one in four PRS renters.
As many readers will know, this means that during a period that has seen rising fuel and food costs, tenants within the LHA system receive payments towards their rent that are often significantly less than the rent they pay.
Polly Neate (pictured) added: “Almost a million private renters are at risk 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.”
Paul Champlin (pictured, left) of Landlord Actionwho featured in both ITV News bulletins, says: “As I said on camera to Dan, the biggest losers from all this are tenants many of whom are now finding that huge competition – sometimes up to 40 applicants – for a reduced number of rented properties mean higher rents.
“And it’s not going to get better – next year I predict that evictions next year will eclipse those during 2019 before Covid struck – so possibly more than 120,000, although this will include more mortgage evictions as the recession bites as well as landlords exiting the market .”
Chris NorrisPolicy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association, says: “The vast majority of landlords want to help tenants stay in their homes wherever possible. However, the Government needs to do more to support those most in need of help. This should include unfreezing housing benefit rates.
“It is simply absurd that support for housing costs is being linked to rents as they were three years ago, not as they are today.
“Ministers also need to address the supply crisis in the rental market. Recent tax hikes have only served to cut the number of homes available to rent, whilst demand continues to remain strong. All this is doing is driving rents up and making homes harder to access.
“We are working with the Government to ensure the system that replaces Section 21 repossessions is fair and workable for responsible landlords as well as tenants.
“This needs to include ensuring landlords can effectively tackle the problem of anti-social tenants and those building substantial rent arrears.”