Around 400,000 renting households, or 5% of all renters, have either been served an eviction notice or have been told they may be evicted, it has been claimed.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is waning that about a million renting households are worried about being evicted in the next three months – 11% of all renters – now that the eviction ban has come to an end.
The temporary ban on bailiff-enforced evictions introduced in March last year and extended several times since, provided much-needed security to renters at a time of profound economic and social disruption.
However, a new survey of over 10,000 households, commissioned by JRF and conducted by YouGov, reveals clear warning signs that point to a spike in evictions now that the ban has been lifted.
In addition to the 400,000 already expecting to be evicted, around 450,000 households are currently in arrears with rent and almost a fifth of this group – 18% – have been in arrears for more than four months, meaning landlords in England will only be required to give four weeks’ notice of eviction when the ban lifts.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation economist Rachelle Earwaker said many renters in low income work had lost their livelihoods in the pandemic and ending the eviction ban risks “a two-tier recovery”.
Earwaker said: “The government’s stated aim to support more people into home ownership does not stack up with its decision to ignore the growing issue of rent arrears. For the 450,000 families locked in rent debt, the prospect of securing a mortgage is simply unimaginable and worse still, many will now struggle to secure a new home in the private rented sector just as the eviction ban ends.
“High levels of arrears are restricting families’ ability to pay the bills and forcing many to rely on hidden borrowing. This is not only deeply unjust, it is also economically naïve, and risks hampering our economic recovery, which is reliant on household spending increasing as society continues to reopen. The Government’s decision to provide a generous tax break to wealthier homeowners through the stamp duty holiday while failing to protect renters points to a worrying two-tier recovery in which those who were prospering prior to the pandemic will continue to do so, while those who have been hit hard will sink even further behind.
“The cost of boosting support to tackle rent arrears is a fraction of the cost of the stamp duty holiday. If we are to experience an economic recovery which benefits everyone across the country, the Government must urgently take action on rent arrears.”