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Unfair evictions ‘cost councils £161m a year’

Written by: Emma Lunn
Ending unfair evictions could reduce homelessness by 9% and save the public purse £161m a year, according to analysis by Generation Rent.

Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that out of 755,250 households made homeless or threatened with homelessness between April 2018 and December 2020, 140,950 (19%) had been in a private assured shorthold tenancy.

The campaign group says that of these households, 68,430 households have faced homelessness after their landlord evicted them to sell or re-let the property or in retaliation for a complaint.

The group says these evictions place a burden on local authorities. In 2019-20, the most recent year for which figures are available, councils in England spent £543m on prevention, administration and support activities around homelessness. Each of the 289,810 homelessness cases that year cost councils an average of £1,874 to respond to.

In 2019-20, there were an average of 88,533 households in temporary accommodation, costing councils a total of £1.187bn – an average of £13,410 per household.

Generation Rent estimates that unfair evictions directly cost councils £161m in 2019-20 – through responding to 28,150 homelessness cases and housing an estimated 8,057 households who had been evicted unfairly in temporary accommodation.

In a report published today, A safe place to call home: Ending unfair evictions & reforming renting, Generation Rent recommends reforms to end unfair evictions and give renters’ greater long-term security in their home.

It is calling for landlords who wish to sell to compensate their tenants for a “blameless home move”, and ban evictions where landlords simply wished to replace their tenants or avoid responding to a complaint.

It also wants to see open-ended tenancies, more time for tenants to find a new home, a ban on excessive rent increases to force an eviction, and no mandatory evictions for people in rent debt.

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “The government’s commitment to abolishing Section 21 means that landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants just for requesting repairs or on other spurious grounds. But without further protections tenants could still face hardship and homelessness if their landlord decides to sell up.

“It cannot be right for a housing provider to leave their customer in the lurch and expect tenants and taxpayers to pick up the bill. Renters can never enjoy a stable life if they can have the rug pulled from under them, so the government’s reforms must make sure renters get proper support during unwanted moves.”

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