ALARMING new figures from housing charity Shelter have revealed more than 148,000 renting households in England were put at risk of losing their home in the past year – equivalent to 350,000 renters.
In new analysis of statistics from the Ministry of Justice, Shelter identified ‘home threat hotspots’ across the country where renters face the greatest risk of losing their home, which comes as a result of the chronic shortage of affordable homes combined with crippling welfare cuts.
Enfield topped the list with 1 in 23 rented homes under threat of eviction. This was followed by Barking and Dagenham (1 in 23), Havering (1 in 27) and Croydon (1 in 27).
But the problem stretches far beyond London. Areas such as Luton, with 1 in 28 rented homes at risk, Thurrock (1 in 34) and Peterborough (1 in 35) also made it into the country’s top twenty ‘home threat hotspots’.
The Thurrock figure means there are 637 Thurrock renting households at risk of eviction and 1510 Thurrock residents in total.
Additionally, the volume of people facing eviction who are coming to Shelter for advice is getting higher and higher. In the past year alone, over 9,800 people facing eviction have called the Shelter helpline for advice and 500,000 people have visited the Shelter website’s eviction advice pages.
Case study: Angela, is a 35 year old mum from Bristol. Last year, her landlord increased the rent which she couldn’t afford to pay so was evicted, and she’s been sofa-surfing with her five year old son for the past eight months.
"I’d managed to really build a home for my son, where we felt part of the community. It was really scary going from that to waiting for the bailiffs to throw us out. I desperately wanted to be in a position to tell my son that we were moving house but instead, we’ve been sofa surfing and relying on the good grace of friend’s to let us stay.
"For me, home is the start of everything. It gives you more than an address; it gives you a life and a community base. For my son, it’s just as important. I’m so worried about him and how this will affect him long-term. Luckily, we’re still getting ongoing support from Shelter so I know we’ve always got someone to turn to for advice."
Nadeem Khan, helpline adviser for Shelter, said: "Every day at Shelter we hear from people who are struggling to keep up with their rent, many in total desperation after the court papers land on their doormat and the threat of being evicted becomes very real.
"It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, but remember you’re not alone – Shelter is here 365 days a year. So if you’re struggling to keep up, or facing eviction and not sure what to do next, get expert advice as soon as possible. It can be the difference between losing your home and keeping it. Shelter is here to help at shelter.org.uk/advice or on 0808 800 4444."