LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Renters held to ransom, says CAB

Renters held to ransom, says CAB

Growing numbers of private sector tenants are turning to Citizens Advice after facing eviction despite being up to date with their rent, the national charity claims.

Citizens Advice says it’s seen a 37% increase in issues caused by people without rent arrears being threatened with “eviction” from a private sector rented home. People approached the bureaux for help with more than 5,000 issues caused by the problem in 2013/14, up from 3,750 the year before. 

The CAB says people who struggle to find the money can face serious problems. It claims eviction by private landlords is the most common cause of homelessness for CAB clients, causing one in 10 of the 80,000 problems with homelessness which Citizens Advice Bureaux saw in the last year.

The CAB says problems in London and the South East are particularly acute, as twice as many people approached Citizens Advice Bureaux with the problem in the first three months of 2014. Bureaux in the regions dealt with 900 problems caused by people being evicted without having run up arrears in January to March 2014, compared to 400 issues during the same period in 2013.

People report that they are being evicted because:
• the landlord wants to sell their home
• rents are hiked to unaffordable levels
• they have asked their landlord to carry out repairs.

The CAB says some people are being given notice when they inform their landlord that their circumstances have changed and they have moved on to housing benefit, even if they have not fallen behind with their rent.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says: “Tenants are being treated as cash cows as a chronic housing shortage pushes up prices and forces renters out of their homes. Competition for properties means that tenants are easy to replace, increasing insecurity for people trying to create a home in the private rented sector.

“We see people who will be forced to move away from work, school or family and friends, which can ramp up commuting and childcare costs or disrupt children’s education.

“We desperately need more new homes to tackle Britain’s woefully inadequate housing supply. Until this happens, we’ll continue seeing evictions rocket as tenants are left at the mercy of rising rents and insecure tenancies.”