Scotland Times

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Protests planned in London as record numbers of renters face eviction

Protests planned in London as record numbers of renters face eviction

The number of private landlord possession claims are now at the “highest level ever”, government data reveals

London remains in the grip of a renting crisis fuelled by extreme shortage of available properties with average rents hitting a new record high of over £2,100 per month in October, according to Hamptons.

The agent said the average rent now eats up 62 per cent of the average renting household’s post-tax income.

The figures have led to calls by renting campaign groups for a Scotland-style emergency rent freeze as well as an immediate ban on Section 21 notices, which the government has pledged to ban but so far not implemented.

“Private renters are under stress like never before. The rising cost of living has pushed thousands into rent arrears, who now face homelessness as their landlords seek eviction”, said Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director at Generation Rent.

He called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to take emergency steps in this week’s Autumn Budget to keep people in their homes and stop rents from “worsening” the cost of living crisis. “We need Jeremy Hunt to freeze rents, suspend no-fault evictions, and re-link Local Housing Allowance rates to market rents.”

The number of private tenants facing eviction for falling behind on rent has soared to a new record high amid the cost of living crisis, according to the latest official figures.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) found private landlord possession claims, one of the steps in the eviction process, have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels and are at the “highest level ever”. Its latest dataset reveals that landlords made 6, 533 claims in the quarter between July and September.

This is up from 4,831 in the previous three months, and is the highest level since records began in 1999. According to Generation Rent, most of these are rent arrears cases as tenants struggle with skyrocketing rents and bills.

The report also revealed that over 3,700 private tenants were evicted between July and September, a 10 per cent rise on the previous quarter.

Meanwhile the number of landlords attempting to evict tenants through controversial section 21 notices has also shot up, after the ban put in place during the pandemic was lifted. In the latest quarter, there were 6,092 ‘no fault’ possession claims, up from 5,540 last quarter.

The surge in evictions comes as Flatsharing website Spareroom says there are now seven renters for every room available in London.

The MOJ data found possession claims by all landlords in the third quarter, compared to a year ago, lifted 106 per cent to 21,012, orders for possessions jumped 174 per cent to 15,352, warrants are up 87 per cent to 8,505 and repossessions rose 10 per cent to 5,403. 

The MOJ report records a rise in claims and orders across all regions but reveals London has been the worst hit. In the capital there were 5,919 landlord claims and 3,640 landlord orders in courts in the third quarter, accounting for 28 per cent and 24 per cent of the respective totals.  


Worst in London

It added that the majority of the highest landlord possession claim rates were in London, with nine of the 10 highest rates occurring in the capital. Brent had the highest rates, with 325 possessions per 100,000 households.

The London Renter’s Union, which has announced a ‘day of action’ in the capital on December 3, said that in recent months it had been contacted by hundreds of tenants facing rent hikes and impending homelessness. The union has called on the government to follow Scotland’s lead and bring in an emergency rent freeze.

Alva Gotby, who is facing a rent rise herself and is also supporting other renters through the LRU, said: “My housemates and I were told by the estate agent that the rent was going up by £300 a month, and the landlord refused to negotiate with us. When we asked the landlord why the rent was increasing so much, he just shrugged.

“I’m unemployed and one of my housemates receives disability benefits, so we can’t move somewhere else because no letting agent would rent to us. We just had to accept the increase. It makes you feel really powerless, like your landlord controls your life.”

The MOJ data also shows a startling rise in the number of mortgage repossessions. According to the report, repossessions by county court bailiffs increased from 390 to 744 during the quarter, a 91 per cent annual rise.

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