The UK rentals market isn’t a great place to be for tenants at the moment – that’s something many of us already know. However, it would seem that it’s getting worse as figures reported in the papers this week indicate that the number of tenants being evicted has hit a six year high. In the first three months of this year, court bailiffs evicted a total of 11,000 families from their homes, which is an increase of 8% on the same period in 2014 and 51% higher than five years ago. So, despite the positive reports we may have seen in the news about a recovering economy, falling unemployment etc it would seem that somewhere along the line things just aren’t adding up.
The evictions this year are just a small piece of a much larger picture – in 2014 the number of families being thrown out of their homes totaled 42,000, which is the highest number since records began. The figures are a horrible reality check on just how badly the UK housing market is being managed and the fact that something clearly needs to be done to ensure we don’t end up with generations without a roof over their heads. The evictions are being attributed to rising rents – unfortunately the only political party that didn’t commit to limiting rent rises during the run up to the election was the party now in power so that’s unlikely to see a change any time soon. Another reason is benefit cuts – 59,000 households have seen the benefits that they receive capped over the past two years.
At The Tenants’ Voice we’ve also seen a number of forum posts about revenge evictions, which are another symptom of a market flooded with tenants and too few properties. Essentially, a revenge eviction is a situation where a tenant complains about something related to the property – it could be too-frequent visits from the landlord or serious damage to the property that has not been fixed – and, rather than dealing with the problem, the landlord simply removes the tenant and hopes that another tenant will be less minded to complain.
All these factors don’t bode well for tenants in the UK and (regardless of where you stand politically) it probably doesn’t help that we now have a government with no real commitment to reform the rental market. Which is why at The Tenants’ Voice we believe that action within the industry is even more important than before in order to make renting in the UK fairer. This is becoming increasingly more of an issue as the rentals market grows and buying property becomes less and less affordable. So, what can you do to help?
- Rate and review. If you come across a great letting agent or service provider (or an organisation that is dragging the industry down) then tell us about it. That way we can drive those who don’t follow the rules to reform.
- Participate on our forums. Where someone has suffered a similar issue to you, give them the benefit of your advice.
- Keep up to date with changes in the law so you know where you stand – for example, revenge evictions will be illegal from autumn this year. We cover many current issues on our blog.
- Campaign for rent controls, abolishing unfair letting agent fees and a better regulated industry – your MP is currently shiny and new so get in there and start encouraging them to make their mark.