BBC: Tenant evictions reach highest level since enclosures

tony at tony at
Sun Nov 2 14:15:46 GMT 2014

Tenant evictions reach their highest level
ever recorded
By Brian Milligan
Personal Finance Reporter, BBC News
13 February 2014 Business
Andrew slept in a car with his family, after they
were evicted.
The number of tenants in England and Wales
forcibly evicted from their homes last year after
court action reached a record high.
Some 37,739 private and public sector tenants
had their homes repossessed by court bailiffs in
2013, according to figures from the Ministry of
That is the highest number since records began in
the year 2000.
However, the number of homes being repossessed
by mortgage lenders at the end of 2013 was the
lowest in a decade.
In cases that involved court action, 12,147 people
had to hand back the keys to their home between
October and December last year.
The Ministry of Justice put that down to low
interest rates and a "proactive approach from
lenders in managing consumers in financial
'Ten minutes to leave'
Andrew, a 53 year-old from Dover, was one of the
record number of tenants evicted in 2013.
He was forced to leave his home in November
after a mild illness caused his work to dry up.
He and his wife had built up rent arrears of more
than £3,000.
When the bailiff came, they expected to be given
a reasonable amount of time to pack up their
"He said, 'Well guys, you've got 10 minutes.'
That was just shocking, absolutely shocking,"
said Andrew.
Those belongings they could not pack were then
left on the driveway in the rain.
They and their two young children subsequently
spent several weeks sleeping in their car.
The cottage where Andrew's belongings were
left on the drive
"There'd be the two boys in the back, under a
couple of quilts. My wife would be up front here.
And we'd eat in here," he told the BBC.
"The following morning, we'd go to McDonald's,
so the boys could brush their teeth and then go
off to school."
Three months after the eviction, they have
managed to get a single hotel room, but only
have enough money for two more nights.
They cook pasta in an electric kettle and warm up
tinned food with hot water in the washbasin.
"I've eaten more pot noodle than I care to admit.
It's grim," said Andrew.
'Changing circumstances'
Landlord possession claims - the first stage of
the process that could end in somebody losing
their home - have also risen, standing at 170,451
in 2013, the highest since 2004, the Ministry of
Justice figures showed.
Quite why more people are finding themselves in
this situation or eventually being evicted is hard
to determine.
It could simply be that more people are renting,
or it could be that more landlords are turning to
the courts for help with evictions.
The cost of renting has increased, but only
Figures from the Office for National Statistics
(ONS) show that private sector rents across the
UK rose by 1% last year, well below the rate of
But in places like London, rent rises may have
outpaced wage increases.
"Rents have been rising at a faster rate than
wages, and tenants are frequently maintaining
their lifestyle on the basis of credit," said Stuart
Law of the property group Assetz.
He said that many tenants had been lulled into a
false sense of security by talk of an economic
"But when that credit dries up, and the
unsustainable lifestyle continues, payment of rent
suffers," he told the BBC.
Others were surprised by the figures.
The UK's largest lettings agency, LSL, reported
last month that rent arrears were falling.
Ian Potter, the managing director of the
Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA),
said he too was surprised.
"I can only speculate that it's tenants who've
suffered changing circumstances," he said.
The picture for those who own their own home is
more positive, according to separate figures also
published on Thursday, with low interest rates
keeping mortgage costs down.
Banks and building societies reported that 28,900
homeowners had their property repossessed in
2013, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML)
This was 5,000 lower than in 2012 and the lowest
annual figure since 2007.
The housing charity Shelter says that if people
want to stay in their homes when faced with
eviction, they need to act quickly.
"Behind these figures is the reality that just one
thing, like an illness or redundancy, can be all it
takes to tip anyone into a downward spiral that
puts their home at risk," said Campbell Robb,
chief executive of Shelter.
The charity advises that rent payments should be
the top priority.
Other debts, like credit cards or phone bills,
should be negotiated later.
And those looking for an easy way out of trouble
should not be tempted by payday loans.
Above all, it advises them to get professional
advice, or call Shelter's free helpline on 0808 800
Meanwhile, Andrew and his family are still
homeless. He has even considered begging on the
streets, but is determined not to do so.
"We will find a home. It may not be where we
want it to be, but we will find it," he said.
"We will make it our own, and we will look back
on this as an experience."

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