The number of tenants being evicted from rental properties by their landlords has reached the highest level in five years, according to Sweet & Maxwell, the leading legal information provider.
It says tenant evictions for landlord repossession have risen by 9% over the last year, from 33,199 in 2011/12 to 36,177 to in 2012/13.
Sweet & Maxwell points out that landlord repossession orders, obtained through county courts, are mainly used by landlords to reclaim their property from tenants that have fallen behind on their rent.
“Rising rents on residential property and falling real wages are trends that have been in place for a number of years, and have stretched the finances of an increasing number of tenants to breaking point,” says Daniel Dovar, co-author of “Residential Possession Proceedings” published by Sweet & Maxwell. “Low vacancy rates for rental properties especially in London and the South East, mean that landlords are also more willing to remove tenants who have a history of defaulting on their rent from their property.
"With demand for rental property in many local markets outweighing supply and forcing rents upward, the opportunity cost to a landlord of having a property occupied by someone that can’t or won’t pay their rent has increased. That makes emptying a loss-making property quickly a bigger priority.
“Landlords are also under a lot of pressure to meet their mortgage payments on buy-to-let investments.
“If the availability of mortgages to first time buyers continues to improve and the pipeline of new build property recovers, we might see the momentum behind rental price growth ease. That could go some way to relieving the financial stress some tenants are encountering.”
Sweet & Maxwell says that a landlord must have a reason for trying to repossess their property and must give adequate notice of their intention, followed by an application to the county court. They can then apply for a warrant of execution to have bailiffs remove the tenant from the property.
“Obtaining a repossession order can be an expensive process with no guarantee that the landlord will recover their legal costs or the outstanding rent that they are owed, so it is a last resort,” adds Daniel Dovar.
The Government’s recent reductions in housing benefits for some claimants, dubbed the “bedroom tax”, may lead to more landlords using a repossession order to evict tenants from their properties as tenants on housing benefits struggle to pay their rent.