Calls to ban 'revenge evictions' as rental market reaches crisis point
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Woman evicted after blaming poltergeist for party noises
There has been a record rise in calls for help taken from renters at risk of losing their homes, new figures from a housing charity's helpline show.
More than 7,600 renters at risk of losing their home called Shelter for advice in the last year - the equivalent of nearly 150 callers per week.
The figure has more than doubled from the 3,997 callers helped by the charity two years ago.
Shelter is releasing the figures as part of its campaign to protect renters from so-called ‘revenge evictions’.
The charity’s research reveals that more than 213,000 people have been served an eviction notice or evicted in the last year after asking their private landlord to fix a problem in their home.
With Housing Minister Kris Hopkins currently reviewing whether to change the law to tackle the problem, Shelter is calling for stronger protection from eviction for renters who report bad conditions in their home to their landlord or local authority.
A YouGov survey of more than 4,500 private renters commissioned by Shelter highlighted how widespread bad conditions in rented homes have become.
More than 40% reported problems with mould, while 25% were forced to live with a leaking roof or windows, and 16% have had electrical hazards.
Nadeem Khan, a Shelter helpline adviser, said: “We’re hearing from family after family who are living in fear that just one complaint to their landlord could lead to them being kicked out.
“That’s why we’re fighting to make sure that no one who asks for their property to be kept safe and decent has to worry about eviction. It’s time now for the government to take action.”
The charity says it found shocking examples of revenge evictions happening across the country.
Melissa Voisey and her two young children were evicted from their home in Blackburn in February, after asking their landlord to fix a major damp problem and leaks throughout the property.
She said: “We'd only been living in our home for four months and as soon as I told our landlord about the damp and leaks, he said we had to leave.
“Suddenly having to find a new home for me and my boys was one of the most distressing experiences we've had as a family. It’s left us all feeling worried and anxious - and it's had a huge impact on our finances as well.
“I can’t believe this is allowed to happen. I wouldn't wish what we've gone through on anyone.”
Earlier this month, Shelter research showed that over 4,000 households across England are at risk of losing their home every week through an eviction or repossession.
Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive, said: “This is yet more evidence of the shocking reality that renters across the country are facing every day.
“With soaring house prices pushing homeownership further out of reach, more of us are forced to set up home in rented properties that are expensive, insecure and often in poor conditions.
“Calls to our helpline from renters are soaring and revenge evictions are becoming all too common. Private renting is close to crisis point: this can’t go on.
“No-one should lose their home for asking their landlord to fix a problem. The government has to protect England’s nine million renters from unfair evictions.”
The YouGov survey was commissioned by Shelter and British Gas as part of their partnership to improve the conditions of privately rented homes.