As private renting has boomed, as more people are priced out of the owner occupation market, and social (council and housing association) rented housing has declined, a record number of evictions is occurring.
Over 43,000 households in rented housing in England and Wales were evicted by county court bailiffs in the 12 months to June, that’s according to figures published by the Ministry of Justice in August 2015, representing a 50 per cent increase in the past four years.
As private landlords have increasingly taken on the mantel of “social landlords”, housing increasing numbers of tenants on welfare, housing charities are blaming benefits cuts for the increase in evictions.
Private landlords have of necessity a much lower tolerance for rent arrears than their council and housing association counterparts and will act more quickly to evict and re-let to rent paying tenants.
As the private sector has taken more and more supported tenants, the amount of housing benefit being paid to private landlords has tripled in the past decade, to £9.3bn a year in 2013-14.
Campaigning housing charity Shelter says many low-income households are struggling to pay their rent due to benefits caps.
Universal credit is being introduced to replace 6 other entitlements including housing benefit, and following the Summer Budget announcement, benefits will be capped at £20,000 for households outside London, and £23,000 for those living in the capital.
The number of landlords willing to let to those in receipt of state benefits has fallen sharply since 2011, according to the National Landlords’ Association. Less than one in 10 landlords have lowered rents in response to the cuts according to research published by Shelter.
The result is that tenants have no choice but to move into lower quality and often overcrowded accommodation at the bottom end of the rental market which, tends to be supplied by landlords offering accommodation of dubious standards.
The problem appears to be most is acute in London, London being the most expensive market in Britain, where half of London boroughs don’t have sufficient inexpensive accommodation to meet the demand from people on low incomes needing housing.
“If the government really wants to fix the housing crisis and bring down rents, so people can afford them without needing support, the only answer is to invest in building genuinely affordable homes,” Mr Robb from Shelter told the Financial Times.
The justice ministry says that, although the number of repossessions is still rising, the incidence of landlords beginning action against tenants has begun to fall, having peaked in the first quarter of 2014.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has said:
“Our work to cut the deficit inherited from the last administration and keep interest rates low [has helped] more families to stay in their hard-earned homes.”
“The government is spending £500m to prevent homelessness, which has in recent years fallen to half of its long-term peak,”
Evictions in England and Wales at Record Levels – http://t.co/SbO001DpbW
— LandlordZONE® (@LandlordZONE) August 25, 2015