Welfare reforms, including the bedroom tax and tougher sanctions for jobseekers, have helped increase the number of tenants facing eviction to the highest level in over a decade.
Official figures from the Ministry of Justice have revealed that between January and March landlords went to court the equivalent of 525 times day to make claims to repossess properties. The majority of these landlords were social landlords who took the first steps towards evicting over 31,000 tenants, reports the Guardian.
Daniel Fitzpatrick, a partner at a law firm representing social tenants in possession cases, said: “If councils have the opportunity to get someone to move out they are being quite ruthless – even some of the left-leaning councils. Many of the possession claims I see are due to benefits stopping and starting. The tougher sanctions planned for people on JSA, for example signing on every day, will have a knock-on effect for people’s housing benefit and ultimately a possession order for rent arrears.”
The National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations across England, said evicting residents was “the last thing housing associations want to do”, but removal of the spare room subsidy was causing problems.
“We have long warned of the stresses that the bedroom tax is placing people under,” said the NHF’s head of policy, Kevin Williamson. “Associations have been working for months to identify those residents who are impacted by the bedroom tax, helping them move home where possible, or providing advice on budgeting and securing jobs and training to help people pay their rent. Fortunately only a tiny minority of possession orders result in evictions.”
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said the figures showed how tough life was for Generation Rent.
“Rising food and fuel bills, years of stagnating wages, a wave of welfare changes and especially the bedroom tax have left many social renters on a financial knife-edge,” he said.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “These figures do not show any link between the removal of the spare room subsidy and repossession numbers, and to suggest so is misleading.”
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