Fears over rise in rough sleeping in the South West as eviction ban looms

  • Watch Caron Bell's report

A homeless charity in Devizes is warning the region could see a big rise in rough sleepers when the government's eviction ban ends on January 11.

At the moment landlords can not evict tenants for not paying rent, but many people could soon find themselves on friends' sofas, or on the streets when the eviction ban ends.

The Opendoors drop-in centre provides an escape from sleeping rough for people like Henry. Credit: ITV News West Country

Henry used to be one of the hundreds of people sleeping rough on the West Country's streets.

He now has a home of his own, but fears many people could be forced out of secure housing when the Government's eviction ban ends.

He said: "It's demoralising. It can be soul-destroying. You literally do feel like you're the last man alive, when everyone's gone to bed you see all the lights turned off, and you're sat there in the darkness. You've got nothing to look forward to. Yeah, it can be soul-destroying."

People in Devizes have been generous in their donations to the centre. Credit: ITV News West Country

The Opendoors drop-in centre in Devizes is well stocked with clothes and food, to help people who might be caught up in a looming crisis.

John Saunders, who works there, said: "If I was a landlord I'd be quite short of money at the moment because I wasn't able to get the money out of the tenants that weren't paying me and I wasn't able to get rid of the tenants.

"He will be able to get rid of the tenants from 11 January onwards.

"That means there's going to be a number of people who are going to be on the streets, or on their friends' sofas, and looking to us to help them find somewhere of their own, which takes time."

In response, a Government statement said: "We've taken unprecedented action to protect renters, changing the law to put in place six-month notice periods and banning the enforcement of evictions, except in the most serious cases, until January.

"We have also announced a further £310million for councils to help prevent vulnerable people becoming homeless as part of an overall investment of more than £750million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping next year."

Read more: