One million Britons fear losing homes when eviction ban ends today

As the ban on evictions is lifted almost one million households fear being made homeless, new research has suggested.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said 400,000 have already been served with an eviction notice or told they may be evicted and a further 450,000 households are in arrears with rent, JRF said.

A ban on evictions in England ends today, leading to warnings from housing campaigners that tenants face a wave of proceedings as bailiffs are allowed to resume using court orders for repossession.

JRF said the temporary ban on bailiff-enforced evictions has provided much-needed security to renters during the pandemic.

The ban was introduced in March 2020 and has been extended several times throughout the pandemic.

The JRF survey of more than 10,000 households suggested ‘clear warning signs’ of a spike in evictions and homelessness as the ban lifts, the report said.

However, the lift will be welcomed by landlords, some of whom have been left with no recourse to take against tenants who have been simply unwilling to pay rent rather than those who are unable.

John Lewis, who rents out eight properties in Northamptonshire, says he feels like all landlords have been tarred with the same brush.

Speaking to MailOnline, he said: ‘I have bent over backwards to ensure that my tenants have been supported during hard times.

‘The main problem is the small percentage that choose not to pay the rent because they know that you cannot evict them.

‘Instead they have chosen not to answer emails and letters because they know you won’t visit them and some have even said ‘take a mortgage holiday.’

Mr Lewis says he has been forced to take some tenants to small claims court because he has been unable to evict them.

‘I have always worked with tenants when they have struggled but the government have taken any control out of our hands.

‘It’s almost as though the government think that they can say and do whatever they want and the landlord suffers.

‘I know that there are bad landlords out there but they are a minority but we are all being tarred with the same brush.’

Meanwhile, renter Rudolf Bozart says the pandemic has left him in rent arrears of £3,400.

The company Mr Bozart worked for went bust and after finding a replacement job as a carer, he was then made redundant.

The 26-year-old, who now delivers takeaways, told the BBC: ‘It is stressful and it’s affecting my health and it gives a lot of sleepless nights.

‘I just don’t know when I’m going to wake up to the dreadful message, saying that this is your notice because of the rent arrears.

‘So far the ban on eviction was my safety net for me not ending up on the streets.’

Rachelle Earwaker, of JRF, said: ‘For the 450,000 families locked in rent debt, the prospect of securing a mortgage is simply unimaginable and, worse still, many will now struggle to secure a new home in the private rented sector just as the eviction ban ends.

‘High levels of arrears are restricting families’ ability to pay the bills and forcing many to rely on hidden borrowing.

‘This is not only deeply unjust, it is also economically naïve and risks hampering our economic recovery, which is reliant on household spending increasing as society continues to reopen.

‘The Government’s decision to provide a generous tax break to wealthier homeowners through the stamp duty holiday while failing to protect renters points to a worrying two-tier recovery in which those who were prospering prior to the pandemic will continue to do so while those who have been hit hard will sink even further behind.

‘The cost of boosting support to tackle rent arrears is a fraction of the cost of the stamp duty holiday.’

The Government says the measures will ensure renters continue to be protected with longer notice periods for the coming months, while allowing landlords to access justice.

It claims 45 per cent of private landlords own just one property and are highly vulnerable to rent arrears.

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said: ‘As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.’

Mr Pincher added that ‘crucial’ financial support also remains in place including the furlough scheme which has been extended to the end of September and the uplift to Universal Credit.

Meanwhile, homelessness charity Shelter has warned the Government must do more to protect renters against the imminent threat of eviction and homelessness by providing financial aid.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘The lifting of the eviction ban signals the beginning of the end for many renters facing homelessness.

‘Thousands of people will wake up on June 1 knowing they’ll soon be kicked out of their home, with nowhere to go.

‘The ban has been a lifeline for private renters who have weathered job losses, falling incomes and rising debts in this pandemic.

‘But what happens now? Longer notice periods, while they last, will give some worried renters valuable time.

‘But come September, anyone facing eviction will have just weeks to find somewhere else to live.

‘The government needs to do more to stem the tide of rising evictions. It cannot waver from delivering a Renters’ Reform Bill that scraps Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions altogether. And in the meantime, it must offer renters with crippling Covid-arrears a package of financial aid.’

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: ‘As the private rented sector moves out of lockdown measures, the Chancellor has failed to provide tenants with the support they need.

‘This is especially the case for the majority of those in rent arrears who do not qualify for benefit support.

‘Without urgent assistance, many tenants face the prospect of losing their home needlessly as landlords struggle to shoulder the cost of arrears.

‘Affected tenants also potentially face the negative impact of damage to their credit scores.

‘The Government needs to develop a financial package which ensures that benefits cover the rents of those in receipt of them.

‘For those who do not qualify for benefit support, an interest free, government guaranteed tenant hardship loan should be established, similar to those in Wales and Scotland.’

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