Bailiff evictions rise by 39% during cost of living crisis

Government urged to lift the freeze on housing benefits so that they reflect actual housing costs.

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As a result of the cost-of-living crisis, 3,405 families in the private rented sector in England were evicted by bailiffs between April and June 2022, an increase of 39% over the previous quarter.

The overall number of eviction processes has returned to pre-pandemic levels, when the eviction moratorium went into place, according to Shelter.

The housing charity is concerned that the situation may worsen. In the first three months of the year, 25% of households were either homeless or at danger of becoming homeless due to the loss of a private tenancy, according to previous government data.

According to Shelter, this amounts to 18,210 households and is the second greatest cause of homelessness in England and has climbed by 94% in the past year.

An additional Shelter study revealed that, due to rising prices across the board, over two-thirds (64%) of private tenants indicated they would struggle to afford relocation expenses if they were evicted.

With record high rents, rising bills, and housing benefit payments fixed at 2020 levels, a significant number of tenants are struggling to make ends meet and are at risk of losing their homes.

Ameera, 47, has disabled children. A Section 21 eviction notice was served in April. She was successful in pausing the eviction but the family must now leave their home in Sussex this week.

Ameera, who receives housing benefit, was barely able to pay her rent, which recently increased from £2,000 to £2,650 a month. She is now having to find the money to finance relocation and a new home that fulfils her children’s requirements.

“My anxiety is rocketing, and the uncertainty of this situation is affecting my children too”, she said.

“The clock is ticking and with so few affordable properties available, it’s a very real possibility that me and my kids will be homeless by the end of the week.

“I was already struggling paying £2,650 a month in rent after my landlord increased the amount by £650.

“My housing benefit is just £1,200, it doesn’t cover half of my current rent and it definitely won’t cover an expensive, and unwelcome, move.

“With so many costs spiralling and my housing benefit stagnant I already felt like I was up against the ropes but being evicted from my home feels like a knockout blow.”

To prevent more individuals from becoming homeless, Shelter urges the government to lift the freeze on housing benefits so that they reflect actual housing costs.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “Today’s figures paint a grim picture of households across England unable to keep their heads above water as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

“People who don’t leave their home before the bailiff comes are the ones who have run out of options and have nowhere else to go.

“Every day our emergency helpline supports people having to make impossible choices between putting food on the table or paying their rent.

“Housing costs are people’s biggest outgoing and those who have nothing left to cut back will soon be left with nowhere to call home.

“The government must urgently unfreeze housing benefit so it covers the true cost of renting before more families are evicted and pushed into homelessness.

“Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister needs to get a grip and put ending the housing emergency at the top of their to-do list.”

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