EYE OPINION: Are Shelter’s headline-grabbing statistics for real?

The mainstream media hang on every word that comes from the housing charity Shelter and apparently accept at face value any figures that the organisation pumps out as fact.

Take the latest example which grabbed attention this week by stating that, ‘almost a million private renters are under threat of eviction’.

The Shelter press release said that one in twelve private renters in England – equivalent to 941,000 people – are affected. That’s actually nearer to ‘almost 950,000’ but let’s not get picky.

It went on to claim that:

‘The charity’s polling, conducted by YouGov and funded by Nationwide Building Society, found that of those at risk of eviction, 504,000 private renters had received or been threatened with an eviction notice in the last month, up 80% on the same period last year, and 482,000 are behind on their rent, putting their home in danger.

‘Record high rents and soaring living costs mean the fear of becoming homeless is looming large over millions of people stuck living in insecure private rentals.’

The  research also found:

A quarter of private renters – equivalent to 2.8 million people – are constantly struggling to pay their rent, an increase of 24% compared to the same period last year.

‘More than two thirds (69%) of private renters – equivalent to 7.7 million people – would struggle to find a suitable home this winter if they were evicted.’


As might be expected the ‘million’ figure was picked up and liberally broadcast by the media. For example, last Wednesday the evening ITV News had Paul Shamplina shoving eviction notices through people’s doors and interviewed a suitably distressed tenant to illustrate the ‘facts’.

There is no disputing that the cost-of-living crisis is painfully impacting millions of people and that there is tremendous pressure on tenants who have their incomes squeezed either by inflation or by a lack of government support.

We have not built enough social housing for decades and demand within the PRS is at very high level. The PRS operates commercially and high demand versus relatively low supply is bound to push rents upwards. Private landlords have seen their costs rising and inevitably some, but certainly not all, have sought to increase rents. Many landlords with stable tenancies choose not to increase rents unless absolutely necessary.

Yes, there are certainly some tenants who are facing evictions. But are a million of them definitely and demonstrably at risk?

In that most recent Shelter press release the Notes to Editors (which almost never get reported and which are probably rarely read) said:

‘About the Research: All data, unless otherwise stated, is from a YouGov survey for Shelter of 2,000 Private Renters in England.

Fieldwork was undertaken between 26 October and 10 November 2022. The survey was carried out Online.

The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults in England (aged 18+).

Population figures have been calculated using English Housing Survey data.’

So, an online survey of 2,000 private renters has been ‘weighted’ so that the headline figure becomes ‘nearly a million’ publicly messaged as a statement of absolute fact.


For the property industry and the PRS the unintended (we hope) effect of such headline-grabbing output is to potentially reinforce misconceptions in the minds of the public and pressure groups resulting in a perception that landlords and letting agents are at the root of the housing crisis. This can lead to consequences.

Take for instance this story on Wednesday in the online publication Inside Croydon

Under a headline of ‘Gouging’ sees private tenants hit by £3,400 rent increases’ The London Renters’ Union said that their members are facing an average rent increase of £3,378 per year – reckoned to be a 20.5per cent rent rise – and they accuse large estate agencies of encouraging private landlords to make “gouging” rent increases.

The Union, which has nearly 7,000 private tenant members, is apparently working with the Greater Manchester Tenants Union to stage a national day of action on Saturday, December 3, to demand an immediate freeze on private rents.

The story noted that: ‘London’s residential lettings sector, meanwhile, is doing very well, thank you very much. Estate agents Foxtons recently reported a 25per cent increase in their revenues. The company’s chief executive was paid £1.6million.’

An LRU member was reported as saying: “Estate agents are deliberately causing these rent hikes by encouraging landlords to raise rents and encouraging bidding wars.”

Here at EYE we are not statisticians and if someone suitably qualified can tell us that the statistical evidence in the Shelter survey do actually support the numbers in their claims, we will be pleased to hear from them.

For now, the only fact we can see demonstrated is that you can prove what you like with statistics.


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  1. frostieclaret87

    Left wing campaign organisation with  a clear anti PRS agenda. They provide not one bed to one homeless person. Need calling out for what they are.

  2. Mark Connelly

    Shelter are a disgrace as is MSM attention to detail or balance.  However I am quite happy to believe that many landlords are being encouraged to raise rents or find new tenants by their agents. It is after all how they make their income.

    1. AcornsRNuts

      Agents have a duty of care to their client landlords to advise on the current market rents and demand in their area.  Landlords then decide whether or not to act on that advice.  Imagine if you discovered that rents in your area had risen by £300 pcm over the last five years and your agent had not told you? Personally In have never increased rent while the same tenants are in the property. When they leave my agent recommends any works and increase in rent.

      1. TDGC

        Here here.

  3. Gloslet

    From a landlords perspective you would like to think that rent arrears might be considered a reasonable situation in which to commence eviction proceedings ?
    Using the figures from the Shelter survey, of the 504,000 ‘threatened with eviction’, 482,000 of those (almost 96%) are in arrears. If that were to be representative of the entire PRS, rent arrears is a very large problem and no wonder that landlords are selling up or switching to short-lets?

    Presumably the other 22,000 were under ‘threat’ of eviction for something else?
    Given that this number will include notices from landlords who wish to move back into their own property, landlords who choose to house family members, instances of antisocial tenant behaviour, landlords who are looking to sell before this or the next Government legislate to make the PRS even less attractive, etc, etc, I imagine there is only a very, very small number that are ‘threatened with eviction’ because of anything near resembling retaliatory eviction ? Yet wasn’t Shelter recently shouting that retaliatory evictions is a big issue for the PRS?

  4. LVW4

    The report was actually a blatant lie! The ‘Notes’ clearly state only 2000 were surveyed, yet Shelter states: ‘… 504,000 private renters HAD received or BEEN threatened with an eviction notice in the last month, …and 482,000 ARE behind on their rent… “

    If only 2000 were surveyed, how do they know about the 504,000 and 482,000?

  5. Neil Robinson

    Shelter are a disgrace.

    Considering they are supposed to be a charity that helps the homeless, their constant battering and slating of landlords – who are the very people who can solve the problem of homelessness – is doing nothing whatsoever to help the people they claim to stand up for.

    1. Robert_May

      It’s very well considered semantics designed to make people think they are helping the homeless when in fact they help prevent homelessness.


      If the strap-line was more transparent [ we offer token assistance aimed at helping keep section 8 tenants in homes they can’t afford or don’t deserve] they’d get very little support especially when its pointed out the section 8 tenants exacerbate homelessness for tenants  who’d respect the  home they’re lucky enough to have secured.


  6. Another House

    I would love to know what constitutes being threatened with an eviction notice. You either get one or your don’t. My maths is not great but assuming Shelter are correct and this is not just something that happened last month but is a monthly event it would mean that somewhere in the region of 6,000,000 renters have been effected by us awful agents and landlords this year so far! If they carry on with this attack on the PRS more landlords will leave the market. More than the 77% of tenants will find it difficult to find a home and more the 28% will struggle to pay the rent as stated by Shelter. We have about 500 properties on our books ( approx 1500 tenants) and we have 2 properties that are behind with rent. We should have 135 behind according to Shelters stats!

  7. AcornsRNuts

    There are now “Lies, Damned Lies and Shelter’s Statistics”.

  8. PossessionFriendUK39

    This is nothing new from  ‘ No Shelter ‘

  9. aSalesAgent

    What are 941,000 private renters at risk of? Only 504,000 of them received or were threatened with an eviction notice in the last month?

    I keep seeing Shelter and their ilk describing Section 21 notices as ‘no-fault evictions’, yet as Gloslet points out, 96% of the renters who were threatened with eviction were in arrears…..

  10. Woodentop

    What’s an eviction notice? So they have been to court and a warrant for possession has been issued!


    Or are we saying something else that is happening but ‘eviction’ is more politically charged rhetoric that is intended to be misleading to the audience of the general public?

  11. Jon

    Well thanks to the way Shelter manipulate figures I now need to go on a diet. Why? Well I ate a chocolate bar (small) 5 minutes ago. So that’s 12 bars per hour or 288 per day or 105,120 per year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m off to waddle to the shop now!!!!  Toodle pips everyone.

  12. Will2

    Unfortunately the press/media/politicians/the public like a good story and by goodness Shelter tell a very good story (not neccsarily reality) with their imaginary figures extropolated  from small scale skewed statistics. Our drongoes, like politicians, supporters like the Nationwide Building Society etc all fall for it, like lambs to the slaughter. The stories should be filed under fiction and not paraded as factural.  Perhaps they really are like many TV dramas based on real events but dramatised for public enterainment and not necessarily 100% factual.  They all seem to skate  over the facts that Shelter, with their anti landlord DNA, have significantly added to the current housing crisis by driving landlords out of the market with years of anti landlord rhetoric to which they are addicted like crack heads.  With the idiots in the Conservative party, Labour, Libdems, Greens etc buying votes with the “S21 removal currency” further adding to the increased service in S21 to permit landlords to sell up and leave the market before the  proposals are made law (and of course giving them more fodder to feed on). We seem to now live in a world of Fake News, Scammers and Rogue Charities.  This is of course a personal opinion but one I suspect may be held by many property professionals and those who provide housing for those who wish to rent privately or cannot afford to purchase. Those who wish to have social mobility and perhaps those who live in poorer areas and wish to work in places like London to gain a higher salary and NEED somewhere to rent. Of course lack of investment by Government and Councils who traditionally provided social housing NOW want to claim the PRS as social housing because they have sold up and spend the people of the Country’s taxes elsewhere, like selling the family silver (Or Gold in the case when Labour were in power).  Just opinions for your thoughts!

  13. Mark Connelly

    Fair synopsis

  14. MickRoberts

    On Paul Shamplina’s TV programme.

    Unbelievable isn’t it Paul. You say your bit. You say the truth. Where if shown, someone may act and we may turn the corner for the good tenants who can’t get houses any more. But yet again, they only show what looks to be the bad thing the Landlord is doing. Thing is, they know they doing this. But gets them the TV ratings which is what they bothered about


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