Why private renters in England worry about losing their home

In England, a shocking three in ten private renters worried about losing their home in the last year. Shelter’s John Bibby finds out why.

So, why would three in ten private renters in England have worried about losing their home? High or increasing rent costs? Perhaps, but our research shows even private renters who aren’t struggling to pay their rent are worrying about losing their home.

In fact, the leading reasons tenants give don’t relate to being able to pay the rent at all. Instead, quite simply, private renters are worried their landlord ‘might ask them to leave’, or just ‘not renew their tenancy’ when it comes to an end.


These are not renters who have any particular reason to believe their landlord would want to get rid of them, they are not bad tenants. However, they know that unfortunately in England, most of the time, a private landlord doesn’t need to give a good reason to evict their tenants.

In this country most private renters have just a six month or one year contract, and, beyond that time, there are no guarantees they’ll be allowed to keep their home. When the rental period is up their landlord could ask them to leave or just refuse to renew their contract. Which means even doing something as innocuous as asking for much needed redecoration to the place they live, can put tenants in England at risk of eviction.

We hear from renters all the time, like Rachel, who say this means the place they’re living doesn’t feel like a home – because they’re constantly worrying about being forced to move.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, in most of our neighbouring countries renters have much more protection from eviction. And, as a result, they enjoy much more certainty around how long they can stay in their rented home.

How does renting across Europe compare?

Last year, we commissioned a major piece of research on how much control private renters have on staying in their homes for the long term in other European nations. The result? The overwhelming majority of private renters in our neighbouring countries have much more control over the longevity of their stay, thanks to their respective private renting laws.

Use our interactive map to see the security renters have in Europe.


For example, in Ireland renters are usually allowed to stay in their home for four years if they want, and their landlord can only evict them within that period if they have a really good reason – such as their tenant being in serious rent arrears.

In Spain renters get three years of security. In Belgium it’s nine years. In Germany, a landlord can never evict a tenant without having a good reason; they get permanent security.

Renters in Ireland, Spain and Germany can still move out at any time by giving proper notice, but they have a much greater guarantee that they’ll be able to stay for the long term if they want. So they get the flexibility to move, but they also have the security that they can stay for the long term by default.

With more and more people bringing up children in private rented homes, we need to change the law in England so private renting can give families a secure, long-term home. Otherwise, millions of people will continue to live with the constant fear of losing their home.