Charities warn of a ‘wave of homelessness in coming months’ after eviction ban ends

400,000 renting households have either been served an eviction notice or have been told they will be evicted, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

There could be a wave of evictions in the coming months with hundreds of thousands of private renters in England facing eviction after the evictions ban ended earlier this week, charities have warned.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 400,000 renting households have either been served an eviction notice or have been told they will be evicted.

The government had introduced a ban on evictions in March last year, in a bid to reduce the burden facing renters who had fallen into arrears due to financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

While the ban on evictions had previously been extended, it expired earlier this week. 

Rachelle Earwaker, an economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity that works to solve poverty, warned that there could be a ‘wave of evictions coming through over the coming months’.

She told LFF: “In four weeks, those who have already been in serious arrears, so four months or more of arrears, do face a strong likelihood of being evicted and as we move further through the year and as the furlough scheme ends, as the £20 uplift to Universal Credit expires, we can expect to see a lot more evictions.”

Rachelle said it was not clear why the government had chosen to end the evictions ban at the present time, while the country is still coming out of restrictions and while people still face big losses in income.

She said the government had failed to deal with the root causes of why so many people found themselves in arrears.

“We’re calling on the government to address rent arrears through increasing the amount of support through the discretionary housing payment system and providing grants to those who have fallen into rent arrears, so they can keep afloat,” she said.

Rachelle also said the rate for the Local Housing Allowance, a form of benefit administered by local councils, ought to be realigned to keep in line with local rents which had been increasing over previous years.

She added: “We are really worried a two-tier recovery is emerging. 

“The government has provided quite a lot of support for wealthy homeowners through the stamp duty holiday, house prices have increased by about 10% over the last year and so there’s support for those households that haven’t suffered economically as badly as renters have through the pandemic through loss of income. 

“We’re just not seeing that support come through for renters in the same way.”

Homeless charity Centrepoint said that the government should stand by its pledge to prevent people being forced out of their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at Centrepoint said: “Over the past year, many young people have lost their jobs and find themselves in rent arrears. The ending of the eviction ban has put these private renters in a vulnerable position.

“The ban on evictions has undoubtedly stopped people from losing their homes during the pandemic, but the economic fallout from the past year is still prevalent.

“The government said no one should be forced out of their home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ministers must stand by that promise and provide permanent protection for those at risk of arrears-based evictions built up due to the pandemic.”

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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