Shelter has jumped on government figures that document the number of households evicted from their homes and who then went on to ask local authorities for help during the first quarter of the year, claiming landlords were largely responsible for this homelessness during this pre-Covid period.
The housing charity correctly points out that private landlords are the source of 25% of all cases of recorded homelessness during these three months prior to the Covid pandemic.
Based on this headline data, Shelter chief Polly Neate has claimed that private tenants “were already badly affected by homelessness when the pandemic was just taking hold”.
The charity is understandably worried that thousands more renters have since faced problems paying their rent since the Covid ban began.
But a closer scrutiny of the government data doesn’t bear out Shelter’s contention that PRS sector landlords are wholly to blame for increase in homelessness prior Covid striking the UK.
Those being made homeless and presenting themselves to local authorities for help increased by 7% between 2019/19 and 2019/2020 to 288,480 households, the data shows.
Those coming from the PRS decreased by 1.34% to 73,630, making it hard to justify Shelter’s line.
The biggest increases in households asking for help came from the social rented sector (up 15.5% to 32,150) and families ejecting their own kin (up 6.88% to 68,610).
Nevertheless, Shelter remains very much focussed on private landlords within its campaign.
“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,” she says.
“As well as ensuring councils have the mandate and resources to help anyone facing homelessness during the undeniably stormy months ahead.”