One in 10 private renters fear they will lose their homes as costs soar, survey finds

Conservatives on to their sixteenth housing minister since 2010 as Rishi Sunak sacks Rachel Maclean

Holly Bancroft
Social Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 14 November 2023 03:13
Cabinet reshuffle: Who is in and who is out?

One in 10 private renters in England fear they could lose their homes this winter, a new survey has found, after the government announced its sixteenth housing minister since 2010.

Research from housing charity Shelter found that 43 per cent of tenants surveyed said they were worried about becoming homeless due to soaring housing costs.

Figures released last week showed that the number of landlords pursuing no-fault evictions against tenants was at its highest level for seven years. More than 8,300 section 21 evictions, which allow landlords to serve notice without reason, were taken to court from July to September this year.

Housing charity Shelter surveyed around 2,000 private renters and found that more than three in 10 had borrowed money to pay their rent. One in seven said they had had their rent put up in the past month.

Around 29 per cent said their housing situation had a negative impact on their family life

Esther, 55, who has two children, said she was struggling to find somewhere for her family to live after the landlord served her with an eviction notice.

“When I was told I needed to leave my heart sank, I’d lived in my area for over 20 years and the landlord put up the rent by £250. Each time I move it costs so much and is very disruptive for my children,” she said. Her youngest child is 11 and has settled in a local school.

“When I told her we may have to move again, she was devastated”, she said.

Speaking about the difficulties of finding somewhere, she added: “I have searched for months but homes were either too expensive or couldn’t fit my whole family. We now face homelessness and the unknown this winter.”

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Additional results from the survey, shared exclusively with The Independent, showed that almost half of respondents said their housing situation was negatively impacting their mental health and wellbeing.

Some 29 per cent said their housing situation had a negative impact on their family life, increasing to nearly 38 per cent of renters with children.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak sacked his housing minister Rachel Maclean during his bombshell cabinet reshuffle on Monday, with the move attracting criticism from fellow MPs. She was replaced by Lee Rowley, who had been local government minister.

Ms Maclean said she was “disappointed” by the move and had been looking forward to introducing the Renters Reform Bill at committee stage tomorrow. Her party colleague, Kemi Badenoch, said she was sorry to see her go and praised her as an “excellent minister”, with housing secretary Michael Gove retweeting the comments.

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Matt Downie, chief executive of the charity Crisis, said the sector needed “stability and consistency” to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis.

Tom Darling, from the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “It is frankly shambolic that we will now be on to our 16th housing minister since 2010, and incredibly nine just since the government promised to end no-fault evictions.”

Speaking about the charity’s survey, Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “A terrible winter of eviction lies ahead as millions of renters’ grapple with runaway rents and the enduring cost of living crisis. Every day our frontline teams take more calls from families living the nightmare of rent rises they cannot afford. And every day we speak to more families facing the horror of losing their home.”

The government has said that its “landmark Renters Reform Bill offers better protections for tenants and gives them greater security to challenge poor conditions in their homes”.

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