In total there were 10,202 possession claims issued with private landlords accounting for 4,373 claims compared to 3,681 by social landlords.
To tackle homelessness before it happens we need to prevent people falling into arrears in the first placeJon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis
Commenting on the data, government statisticians said they expect “the Covid-19 impact is likely to have washed out of the data” and added that “they expect a continued increase in volume across all actions as the courts continue to manage the backlog”.
The remaining 2,148 were accelerated claims lodged in the three-month period. That now means there has been more than 27,000 claims since Theresa May promised to axe section 21 evictions – which mean a landlord can evict without giving a reason – in April 2019.
A UK government white paper with reforms to replace the ‘no-fault’ evictions has now been delayed until next year but ministers did announce that £65m will be available for vulnerable renters to pay off arrears this winter.
Speaking at a Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee hearing this week, housing secretary Michael Gove said he “hoped the fund was enough”.
Gove told the committee: “I hope it will be enough and it is certainly the case that Shelter and others welcomed the additional funding. It’s not the only way that local authorities can help and not the means that we can use to deal with overcrowding, homelessness and the fragility of people who find themselves on reduced resources as a result of Covid.
“I hope it will be enough but I’m open minded about what other steps we might need to take.”
Richard Lane, director of external affairs at StepChange, said the fund was “welcome” and would be “crucial” to ensure landlord evictions remain low.
Lane called on the government to monitor how local authorities disperse the cash and ensure the support is sign-posted to renters in need.
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“The fact landlord evictions remain low is a positive sign,” said Lane.
“However, a further increase on today’s figures can’t be ruled out. With cost of living pressures set to weigh heavy on households over the winter months, it’s therefore important the government carefully monitors court possession activity to assess the need for further funding.
“Its priority must be to prevent a continued increase in evictions and homelessness arising from pandemic-induced rent arrears.”
Sparkes added: “To tackle homelessness before it happens, we need to prevent people falling into arrears in the first place and that must include unfreezing housing benefit so it covers the true cost of renting.”
The Big Issue is working to prevent thousands of people hit by the pandemic from falling into homelessness in the months ahead through the Stop Mass Homelessness campaign. Sign our petition and find out how you can take action now here.