Recently, we’ve been working with Andrea, a woman from Bristol, on our fix renting campaign. As Andrea describes, home is something that you work for. You build it, both through decorating it to make it yours and through getting to know the people and places around it. And from this, you build a life.
For me, home is the start of everything. It gives you more than an address; it gives you a life and a community base. For my son, it’s just as important.
Andrea didn’t have to imagine what it was like to lose this. Last year, her landlord increased the rent and she couldn’t afford to pay. She was evicted, and she’s been sofa-surfing with her five year old son for the past eight months.
I’d managed to really build a home for my son, where we felt part of the community. It was really scary going from that to waiting for the bailiffs to throw us out.
I’m so worried about him and how this will affect him long-term
New research shows just how common this experience can be for renters.
In the last year alone, more than 140,000 renting households in England – equivalent to 350,000 people – saw court papers land on their doormat telling them their landlord was evicting them.
This is happening to renters across the country. In just twelve months, this happened to one in every 23 renters in Enfield, one in 28 in Luton and one in 38 in Bolton.
In London, a renter is issued court papers that start the process of evicting them from their home, every 11 minutes.
Shelter is here to help if you’re in this position. You can find out information about the process, what to expect, your rights and the action you can take on our website. Our free helpline (0808 800 4444) is open 365 days a year.
Alongside this, we’re working to try to stem the flow of people into court rooms by addressing some of the issues behind this.
The large number of renters put at risk last year is due to the lack of affordable homes across England coupled with cuts to housing benefits that provide essential support with housing costs for five million households.
But alongside this, a major issue is the lack of stability in the private rented sector.
Private landlords issue four in ten landlord possession claims. There are times when a private landlord will need to issue a possession claim. For example, if they need the house back to live in themselves. But at the moment private tenants can be turfed out of their homes with no reason given. Many tenants will just leave and get nowhere near the courts.
Also, there are often next-to-no limits to how much your rent can go up each year. People like Andrea can put time into making a home for her and her son, only for the rent to shoot up just six months to a year after signing the contract.
The steady growth in evictions is yet another reason why we’re campaigning for government to introduce a stable rental contract. This will be a small step to giving the millions of families like Andrea’s the certainty they need to build a home. You can find out more here