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Housing

One no-fault eviction every 32 minutes this winter unless evictions ban returns

Generation Rent called for another “winter truce” amid warning that evictions could see 83 households lose their homes every working day.

A household could lose their home without reason every half an hour this winter unless protections against evictions return, campaigners have warned.

Analysis of government figures from Generation Rent has found there will be 83 evictions every working day over Christmas and in the months ahead if possessions continue at the current rate.

The campaigners have called for the return of the Westminster government’s “winter truce” which banned evictions in England and Wales between December 11 and January 10 last year.

“No evictions should take place during winter, given the risk to vulnerable people of being made homeless amid freezing conditions,” said Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent. 

“Last winter’s truce brought England and Wales into line with other European countries and this should be put in place every year.”

Section 21 evictions, also known as no-fault evictions, allow landlords to evict a tenant without giving a reason.

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Ministry of Justice figures showed private renters have been losing their homes at a rate not far off the levels seen before the pandemic. The 1,695 Section 21 eviction cases the MoJ recorded between July and September 2021 made up almost 90 per cent of the 1,946 evictions seen in the same period in 2019.

Generation Rent warned that 28 households could lose their home to a no-fault eviction every working day between December and February.

Bringing in mortgage possessions, social housing cases and evictions for rent arrears, that figure rises to 83 households per working day. There were 5,036 repossessions across all tenures in the between July and September.

Taking into account the hours bailiffs work during the 61 working days in the quarter, that would mean a household loses their home every 32 minutes on average.

Kennedy added: “This year a winter truce is even more urgent due to the heightened level of infections, the uncertainties posed by the Omicron variant, and the prospect of people who have already lost income since March 2020 facing the loss of their home at what should be the happiest time of the year.”

Meanwhile, the National Residential Landlords Association have also called for renewed efforts to support renters facing rent debts this winter.

A survey of more than 2,000 private renters in England and Wales found the average Covid-19-related renter arrears owed by tenants was now £1,270.

The survey, by research consultancy Dynata, found the amount of arrears has increased by 40 per cent since May when tenants owed £900 on average.

The landlords lobby group wants the Westminster government to make a U-turn on the decision to axe the £20 universal credit increase and to roll out its promised £65m fund to help renters in arrears as soon as possible. The Household Support Fund pot is being distributed by local councils.

Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive, said: “The NRLA is concerned that tenants with outstanding Covid related rent debts are seeing these arrears increase. 

“With the government having made funding available for affected tenants it is now vital that councils get this to those affected renters as swiftly as possible. In doing so they should prioritise those not eligible for emergency housing benefit support. This course of action is the best way to sustain tenancies and keep people in their homes.”

The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign has called for both an end to no-fault evictions and for ministers to pay off £360m in rent arrears to prevent a surge in people losing their homes this winter.

Recently, the campaign warned failing to pay off the arrears now leave 225,000 private renters at risk of losing their home and cost the economy around £2.6bn in the long-term.

Theresa May’s government promised to axe no-fault evictions in April 2019 but Boris Johnson’s government has said that will not happen until at least 2022. 

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: Our action throughout the pandemic helped keep people in their homes and the vast majority of tenants are up to date with their rent.

“We are also helping the most vulnerable renters in arrears through a £65m support package.

“Delivering a fairer deal for renters remains a priority and we have committed to ending no-fault evictions.”

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