Thousands of tenants renting from private landlords face being evicted at short notice and their homes repossessed, according to a new report.
A report from Citizens Advice found that up to 6,800 tenants are evicted from their homes every year when landlords get into mortgage arrears.
The report warns that private tenants often do not get the protections they are entitled to, with some of those tenants completely unaware they are being evicted until bailiffs show up on the doorstep.
Citizens Advice fears the situation will worsen when interest rates inevitably rise and more landlords struggle with mortgage repayments.
Analysis by Citizens Advice found that up to 8,160 private renters per year could be evicted by 2017, solely because their landlord’s property is being repossessed.
Tenants whose landlords don’t have a buy to let mortgage or haven’t had agreement from the mortgage lender to rent out the property are at particular risk, warns Citizens Advice.
Citizens Advice says many tenants are unaware they have a right to two months notice; letters marked ‘to the occupier’ can easily be mistaken for junk mail, when they could be eviction notices.
Tenants who are made aware of their rights are sometimes deterred from taking action, because of the prospect of having to go to court.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Thousands of renters are being repossessed with little or no warning.
“Citizens Advice helped one tenant who was given only three days’ notice to leave his home when his landlord’s property was repossessed.
“As interest rates rise, there is a risk that more tenants will face repossession and the prospect of homelessness.
“Banks have an opportunity to help tenants whose landlords have the wrong mortgage by making sure they inform tenants face-to-face of their rights if they are at risk of losing their home.”
The Bank of England has today decided to hold interest rates at a six-year historic low of 0.5%. This has helped to keep mortgage interest repayments down. However, Citizens Advice research found that 49% of renters have made no preparations for when interest rates rise.
Citizens Advice has made the following recommendations:
- Lenders should make face-to-face visits to properties at risk of repossession to notify people in person that their home is at risk and what their rights are.
- Letting agents should always ensure landlords have a buy-to-let mortgage, or permission from the lender to let the property.
- Banks should send repossession letters to named tenants wherever possible, and in all cases clearly marked with a notice saying the home is at risk.
- Where landlord licensing schemes exist, they should include a condition that a landlord must have the lender’s permission to let a property