The number of rental tenants being evicted rose in the first quarter of 2016, recent figures from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) showed. That’s a worrying start to the year and follows a record number of tenancy evictions in 2015.
MOJ data shows there were 10,732 county court repossessions of rental properties by county court bailiffs between January and March of this year. That’s a 5% increase from the 10,253 evictions in the last three months of 2015. The figures also show there were 42,728 county court bailiff evictions from rented accommodation over the course of 2015 - the highest number for a single year since records began.
The rise in evictions is, in part due to the increase in the number of residents and tenants in the UK in recent years. There are also claims that the changes to the UK welfare system and payments have also contributed to a larger number of renters experiencing financial difficulties.
Analysis of MOJ figures by homeless charity Shelter shows an additional 350,000 renters are at threat of eviction due to a combination of welfare cuts a shortage of housing. Shelter’s examination of the data show that the London boroughs of Enfield, Barking and Dagenham are the UK’s ‘eviction hotspots’.
“The volume of people facing eviction who are coming to Shelter for advice is getting higher and higher,” Shelter said in a press release. “In the past year alone, over 9,800 people facing eviction have called the Shelter helpline for advice and 500,000 people have visited the Shelter website's eviction advice pages.”
Earlier this year the Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) submitted a response to Government’s inquiry on increased homelessness. In it the RLA said that private sector landlords only began eviction proceedings when rent wasn’t paid or tenants exhibited continued anti-social behaviour.
The RLA also stated that the new welfare payment system was worrying both landlords and tenants. 66% of landlords they were less likely to accept a working age tenant who was on benefits due to lower payments and new rules.
“The raft of welfare reforms that are about to hit many low income claimants and families are already starting to make landlords worry,” the RLA said in its response to the Government inquiry. “In our Welfare Survey this month 66% of more than 800 respondents answered that they are more reluctant to let properties to tenants who are of working age and on benefits because of the benefit cap.”
The RLA added that private sector landlords were currently under-fire from the Government with regards to new rules on financial systems including new stamp duty rules and mortgage interest relief. “One of the most important things the Government can do to help prevent homelessness is to simply increase the supply of affordable housing,” the RLA added.
With feelings running high among private sector landlords and growing concerns over new welfare payment reforms, the increase in tenant evictions almost seems inevitable. And, right now with Brexit thrown into the mix, the future for tenants in the UK appears more uncertain than ever.