In 2015, the Ministry of Justice reported that household evictions in England and Wales reached record levels, with 42,728 renters forcibly removed from their homes. In the first three months of 2016, 10,636 households were evicted from rented accommodation in England and Wales, a rise of five percent. These figures are a glaring reminder that many tenants are struggling to maintain a roof over their head and face living on the streets.
Shelter has estimated that over 1,300 people a day (560 households) in England are put at risk from eviction or repossession. So why is it that so many tenants are finding themselves at risk of being evicted from their homes?
There are many factors contributing to the large increase in evictions, such as the ever-rising property prices and welfare cuts. These figures highlight the catastrophic impact that such changes are having on a large number of the population in England and Wales. Shelter have warned that the cap on local housing allowance that came into force in April this year could lead to an increase in the number of social tenants who are evicted.
There are also changes that are making it increasingly difficult for private tenants to maintain their rent payments. For example, rental prices have rocketed in many cities in England and Wales. Wages are failing to keep pace with rising costs. Caps to benefits have left many poorer tenants unable to make payments. The average low-income private renter is spending more than 50 percent of their total household income on rent. There is also concern that the new tax laws for Landlords will make it harder for them to meet their obligations, forcing them to evict their tenants in order to sell their properties.
The reality of these concerns is evident when the above eviction figures are broken down. Of the 10,636 evictions carried out within the first three months of the year, 4,942 were by social landlords, such as housing associations. Private landlords were listed as making 1,567 evictions, with the rest being ‘accelerated claims’. Such claims tend to be used by private rather than social landlords. This shows that a similar number of both social and private tenants are facing eviction.
If a landlord does apply for a warrant of eviction, a tenant still has a chance to stop the eviction from going ahead. They can do this by making an application to court asking it to suspend the warrant which can be submitted to court any time up to the date of the eviction. The court would then list the application for a hearing at which it would hear evidence from both the tenant and landlord and then make a decision about whether the eviction should go ahead.
Our specialist housing solicitors can provide advice to tenants about making such applications and can also help represent tenants at all stages of court proceedings to try to avoid eviction.
If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, contact our housing law solicitors on 01616 966 229.
By Brea Carney-Jones, graduate paralegal in the housing team