The Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned 400,000 renters face eviction last week and face a 'two-tier' recovery

Cassius Francis has written a blog in response to the research released last week.

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Image by Marián Okál from Pixabay

I wanted to get a sense of the reaction from some of our partner organisations working across the Black Country.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is warning that the country risks a two-tier recovery from the pandemic as new research highlights the disproportionate risks facing people who rent their homes. ‘As 400,000 renters face eviction, JRF warns the UK risks a ‘two-tier recovery’

On the day the eviction ban ends, a large-scale survey reveals:

  • Around 400,000 renting households have either been served an eviction notice or have been told they may be evicted (5% of all renters).
  • Around a million renting households are worried about being evicted in the next three months (11% of all renters), half of which are families with children.
  • 1.7 million renting households are worried about paying their rent over the same period (20%) of all renters).
  • Although renters are faring significantly worse than homeowners, their support has been cut while wealthier homeowners continue to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday.’

As you will see from the responses below, some respondents wanted to remain anonymous but from the four options responding to the JRF research – 1. This is an overestimation, 2. This is in line with my expectation, 3. This is an underestimation or 4. I don’t know/it’s too early to say - no one felt that the figure of 400,000 was either an overestimation or underestimation. While some felt that this is in line with their expectations most indicated that it is too early to say. This is of course only a snapshot rather than a comprehensive piece of research for the Black Country, but the responses are insightful and confirm the concerns about the ‘debt tsunami’ that has been predicted. There is perhaps a sense of calm currently because the worst effects of the debt related issues have not been fully realised. However, most worrying is the perceived unpredictability and lack of a safety net for those who are most vulnerable of the scale of the problem.

The JRF article states, ‘Families with children, BAME households and those on lower incomes are disproportionately worried about paying rent and being evicted in the next three months.’ The only criticism reported back to me was that the article does not make a distinction between the landlords in the private rented sector and housing associations. There were concerns raised that some landlords in the private rented sector have made inappropriate use of the Section 21 notice of seeking possession during the pandemic while housing associations tend not to use these. ‘If you get a section 21 notice, it's the first step your landlord has to take to make you leave your home. You won't have to leave your home straight away. If your section 21 notice is valid, your landlord will need to go to court to evict you. You might be able to challenge your eviction and stay longer in your home.’ (Citizens Advice).

Currently, most tenants are entitled to at least 4 months' notice. The information below shows the main situations where you could be given a shorter notice. It sets out the minimum notice periods.

Reason : 4 months' rent arrears or more; (Assured tenant) 4 weeks, (Secure tenant) 4 weeks

Reason: Antisocial behaviour; (Assured tenant) No Notice, (Secure tenant) No Notice

Reason: Original tenant has died; (Assured tenant) 2 months, (Secure tenant) 4 weeks

Reason: False statement when you applied for tenancy; (Assured tenant) 2 weeks, (Secured Tenant) 4 weeks



It is also important to remember that the eviction should go through a five stage process

1. You get a notice from your landlord

2. Court action starts - also called 'possession proceedings'

3. There's a review of your case

4. A court hearing takes place 4 weeks later

5. Bailiffs can carry out an eviction if the court orders this

You won't always be evicted. The process takes time and there are things you can do at each stage to try and keep your home.

• The JRF research is in line with my expectation

Figures in line with projections by Shelter (estimating 230k mid-July 2020) and StepChange (460k by Jan 2021); Citizen Advice reporting last March, 40% increase in helping just private sector renters! Jane Piggott-Smith, Citizens Advice Sandwell & Walsall
I know most debt clients are renters, and as they tend to be lower paid, vulnerable and have no financial 'safety net', they are at great risk. Anonymous

• I don’t know/it’s too early to say

We are currently not seeing any difference, we operate a number of landlords accounts through our budget accounts and again have not yet seen this picture forming. Rob Shearing, Wolverhampton City Credit Union
I trust Rowntree Foundation to provide accurate information, but have no way of corroborating re: local circumstances. Vitally important issue for so many on the edge of homelessness… Revd Nick Ross, Holy Trinity CE Smethwick
I feel that there will be big problems as the country opens up and starts to deal with backlog from people who have lost their jobs and not able to be furloughed. Anonymous
The ending of the stay on evictions will result in a significant increase in tenants facing homelessness and a consequential negative effect on tenants and their family’s mental health. Melinda Chatwin, Citizens Advice Dudley & Wolverhampton
I have not had anyone reporting evictions recently, but am expecting an increase over the coming months once landlords start court proceedings and they start to work through the courts. Anonymous
At the moment the local courts system is in huge backlog and delays, so it will be some time for court enabled evictions will start to happen and will likely be a very gradual phased process over a period of time – there is no clear plan of how the courts will catch up on the backlog let alone keep pace with new proceedings. We are more likely to see people become homeless through Section 21 notices from Assured Shorthold Tenancies that don’t necessarily require formal eviction proceedings. We are seeing steady increases in people presenting as homeless, and we are aware of a handful of cases resulting from illegal evictions by private landlords. At the moment the court delays are giving local authorities and housing partners opportunities to prepare and meet demand. We are seeing much higher numbers of domestic abuse related homelessness than that linked to other causes. Anna Walsh, Churches Housing Association of Dudley and District
Looking nationally doesn’t always correlate locally so I assume JRF numbers are a worst case scenario Anonymous
I popped into Ablewell yesterday. They aren't seeing the impact of this yet. They said it has gone quite quiet re debt, but from their experience this happens when the weather improves as people put it to the back of their minds. They are expecting a surge towards the end of this month when people get eviction notices. But we have no idea on numbers… Revd Bev Boden, Ablewell Advice Walsall
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Image by Kelvin Stuttard from Pixabay

One of the most significant tests for the financial resilience of individuals will come when the uplift in Universal Credit reverts to its usual rate in September and furlough scheme ends in the same month. So far the government have not indicated any willingness to make the uplift permanent and there is currently no indication of an extension to the furlough scheme. In the meantime, if you are concerned about paying your rent or you are supporting someone else who is we share the following guidance through our Covid Cash Delivery Course Covid Cash Recovery course –

1) Contact landlord ASAP to explain your situation: draft email/letter: Just Finance Help Hub

2) Check eligibility for additional money:

  • Discretionary Housing Payment (sounds complicated but just means extra money to support your housing costs!): get a DHP claim form

3) Further advice from Shelter - https://england.shelter.org.uk...

Further background information (from Ravi Chonk, whg)

Housing Quality Network: 'Unfair evictions' costing councils more than £161m per year, 28 May 2021, https://hqnetwork.co.uk/news/u...

National Housing Federation: Housing associations' statement on evictions and support for residents, 28 May 2021, https://www.housing.org.uk/new...,1AOVK,42GNOJ,4OOSL,1

RightsNet: Lifting of eviction ban in England signals ‘the beginning of the end’ for many renters facing homelessness, says Shelter, 1 June 2021, https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/h...

RightsNet: Long-term plan needed to protect vulnerable households at ‘cliff-edge’ of homelessness now Covid-related bailiff eviction ban lifted in England, 1 June 2021, https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/h...

Revd Cassius Francis is the Just Finance Development Worker for the Black Country (with Transforming Communities Together in the Diocese of Lichfield) and he is a minister with the Wesleyan Holiness Church.