Sharp rise in private tenancy evictions

Updated: 

Julien Behal/PA Wire

The number of private tenancy evictions has increased by 17 per cent since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007.

Legal information specialists Sweet and Maxwell have analysed data on possession order claims and found the marked increase in tenants being evicted through the courts.
The company found that 12,686 possession orders - a legal entitlement for a landlord to evict a tenant - were served in 2008, but by 2011 that had risen to 14,895.

The firm has cited unemployment and rising rents as the most likely causes for the increase. Indeed, the latest Office for National Statistics figures showed the number of unemployed in the UK at the highest level since 1995 - 2.67 million. Meanwhile rents continue to rise, particularly in London and the south east of England.

What you need to know about evictions

If your landlord wants your property back from you, they must give you a notice to leave first. If you do not leave on your own, your landlord has to ask a court for an eviction order to force you to leave.

However, your landlord may be guilty of illegal eviction if you are not given notice to leave, if you find the locks have been changed or if you are evicted without a court order.

You should also be aware that it is a crime for landlords to harass or to try to force a tenant out of the property without using court procedures. If you have been harassed or illegally evicted, you have a right to claim damages through the court.

What can you do if you're worried about eviction

Unemployed tenants and those who earn below a certain level may be eligible for housing benefit. You can check your eligibility and find out more about housing benefit here.

There are concerns however, that since lower limits have been introduced to housing benefit restricting the amount paid out to tenants, there is now a shortfall between the benefit paid and the rent charged by landlords.

Since demand is so high, landlords can easily replace their tenants, meaning they have little incentive to decrease their rents.

If you are concerned about the possibility of eviction you should seek help as soon as you can. You can call the Shelter housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444. The charity also has a wealth of information on their website about managing your debts. You can see that information here.

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