400k renters facing eviction threat as eviction ban ends


400,000 people have either already been served eviction notices or have been told that they may be evicted from their homes, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Nearly 400,000 people face being turned out of their homes as the temporary eviction ban comes to an end today.

A survey by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has exposed the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on renters, with the charity finding clear warning signs that a spike in evictions and homelessness will follow the lifting of the ban.

From tomorrow, renters will no longer be protected from evictions enforced by bailiffs as the temporary ban in England, which came into force in March 2020, is lifted at the end of today.

The JRF said that 400,000 people have either already been served eviction notices or have been told that they may be evicted from their homes.

Its survey of 10,000 renters and homeowners, weighted to represent all adult-aged Brits, also estimated that a further 450,000 people are locked in rent arrears.

One in 10 said they were worried that they may lose their homes, while a fifth were unsure about whether they will be able to cover their rent in the next three months.

The JRF said it was deeply worrying that so many people fear losing their homes even before the furlough scheme and £20 uplift in universal credit are due to end.

The charity said the government is ignoring the growing problem of rent debt, which it said could block hundreds of thousands out of the housing market in the future.

JRF researcher Rachelle Earwaker 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, she said. This is not only deeply unjust, it is also economically naive and risks hampering our economic recovery, which is reliant on household spending increasing as society continues to reopen.

The survey also found a stark contrast between renters and homeowners, with the former twice as likely to be worried about covering housing costs — prompting fears of a two-tier recovery in which renters are left behind.

If we are to experience an economic recovery which benefits everyone across the country, the government must urgently take action on rent arrears, Ms Earwaker said.

The JRF called for a targeted package of grants to support renters in arrears through the government’s discretionary housing payments system, and warned that the state has not invested enough to support the 450,000 people who are behind on housing payments.

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