Tenants fear homelessness as pandemic eviction ban ends

ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia speaks to a mother who could be homelessness next month as the ban on evictions ends

It is highly likely homelessness will rise “significantly” as the pandemic-forced eviction ban comes to an end, the chief executive of charity Shelter has warned.

With the embargo on evictions ending on Monday, housing campaigners say tenants face a wave of proceedings as bailiffs are allowed to resume court orders for repossession.

Kat Jordan Elkarout says her and and he three sons could face homelessness within weeks.

"I'm really scared that when my landlord goes to court in June, I will be given potentially two to four weeks to move," the mother-of-three told ITV News.

"If I don't move in that time, the landlord can send the bailiffs and we will be homeless."

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said 400,000 have already been served with an eviction notice or told they may be evicted out of more than 800,000 who say they fear losing their home.

'People are stuck between a rock and a hard place and many of them will end up homeless'

Shelter told ITV News the eviction ban was “absolutely necessary” but added she fears a “real risk” of homelessness rising in the coming months.

“About one in four private renters – that’s 1.8 million people – are really worried that this is going to be the beginning of the end for them in terms of losing their home,” Polly Neate from the charity said.

“I think it is highly likely we will see a significant increase in homelessness going forward.

“It’s not going to be instant, but over the next few months people who built up significant levels of debt during the pandemic… many of those are going to be evicted over the coming months.

“And there is a real lack of options for them because we’re simply not building anywhere near enough social homes that people on low incomes can actually afford to rent.

“The private renting sector is increasingly unaffordable. And so, people are stuck between a rock and a hard place and many of them will end up homeless.”

The ban on evictions ends on Monday Credit: PA

JRF said the temporary ban on bailiff-enforced evictions introduced in March 2020 – and extended several times since – has provided much-needed security to renters during the pandemic.

Its 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.

Around 400,000 are expecting to be evicted and a further 450,000 households are in arrears with rent, JRF said.

Ms Neate said Shelter has teamed up with the National Residential Landlords Association to propose a package of short-term financial measures to help tenants – but stressed the need for long-term solutions.

Listen to our coronavirus podcast:

“In the longer term, the government must reform private renting,” she said.

“It has committed to do that, but the renter’s reform bill that is promised really needs to happen quick, this is quite urgent.

“And, [in the] long-term, there is absolutely no choice but to invest in building social homes that people who are on low or modest incomes can actually afford to rent.

“Because the root cause of this problem is we don’t have enough homes in this country that are genuinely affordable.”