The homeless charity Shelter is warning that one in 12 private renters in England is threatened with eviction.
The charity says that is the equivalent of 941,000 people.
The results of polling, funded by Nationwide Building Society, found that of the renters at risk of eviction, 504,000 had received, or been threatened with, an eviction notice in the last month.
That’s up 80% on the same period last year, and, the charity says, 482,000 tenants are behind on their rent which will put their home in danger.
The rental crisis that is unfolding
Shelter is warning that the government’s failure to unfreeze housing benefit in its Autumn Statement ‘ignores the rental crisis that is unfolding’ and will result in rising homelessness this winter.
The charity points to ‘record high rents’ and soaring living costs which means that the fear of being made homeless is a danger for millions of renters in the private rental sector.
The charity’s research also reveals:
A quarter of private renters – equivalent to 2.8 million people – are constantly struggling to pay their rent, an increase of 24% compared to the same period last year
More than two thirds (69%) of private renters – equivalent to 7.7 million people – would struggle to find a suitable home this winter if they were evicted.
Calling on the public to support its frontline services
Now Shelter is calling on the public to support its frontline services with staff working seven days a week to help as many people as they can to ‘keep hold of a safe home’.
Polly Neate, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Almost a million private renters are at risk of being of being kicked out of their home this winter, and more will follow.
“Every day our emergency helpline advisers are taking gut-wrenching calls – from the mum who’s skipping meals to pay the rent, to the family terrified they will be spending Christmas in a grotty homeless hostel.”
She added: “The government’s refusal to unfreeze housing benefit, when private rents are rising at record rates, means the rental crisis is fast becoming a homelessness emergency.
“At Shelter, we are doing all we can to help people keep the bailiffs at bay, but we’ve got our work cut out.”
Repossessions in the private rented sector
In response to Shelter’s research on repossessions in the private rented sector, Chris Norris, the policy director at the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “The vast majority of landlords want to help tenants stay in their homes wherever possible.
“However, the government needs to do more to support those most in need of help. This should include unfreezing housing benefit rates.
“It is simply absurd that support for housing costs is being linked to rents as they were three years ago, not as they are today.”
He added: “Ministers need also to address the supply crisis in the rental market.
“Recent tax hikes have served only to cut the number of homes available to rent, whilst demand continues to remain strong. All this is doing is driving rents up and making homes harder to access.”
Mr Norris continued: “We are working with the government to ensure the system that replaces Section 21 repossessions is fair and workable for responsible landlords as well as tenants.
“This needs to include ensuring landlords can effectively tackle the problem of anti-social tenants and those building substantial rent arrears.”