Calls for government to review plans to let councils house homeless in private sector
Homelessness grows as private tenants kicked out
The number of families which became homeless after being kicked out by private sector landlords jumped 34 per cent in England last year.
The increase calls into question government plans to allow councils to discharge homelessness duties by placing tenants in private rented accommodation. The proposal is contained in the Decentralisation and Localism Bill, which is making its way through parliament.
Figures published last week reveal the number of households accepted as homeless by councils because their assured shorthold tenancies ended rose 34 per cent, from 4,580 in 2009 to 6,150 in 2010. The 1,620 families which became homeless in the fourth quarter of 2010 represent a 54 per cent increase on the same period in 2009.
Liz Phelps, housing policy officer at Citizens Advice, said the figures were worrying given the Localism Bill’s proposal to bring ‘the homelessness duty to an end with offers of accommodation in the private rented sector’. ‘Isn’t it time for ministers to think again?’
Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb added: ‘These figures show why government proposals to allow councils to put homeless people into an insecure private rented sector are so dangerous.’ Mr Robb added: ‘If the government is serious about tackling homelessness it must urgently rethink reforms set out in the Localism Bill.’
The jump in homelessness from people whose assured shorthold tenancies had ended was responsible for the overall number of homeless acceptances in England rising slightly from 41,780 in 2009 to 42,400 in 2010 - the first increase since 2003.
Homelessness charities and landlords suggested the rise may be linked to a legal change which saw local housing allowance paid directly to tenants from April 2008. The buy-to-let index, published by LSL Property Services, also reveals that private sector rents rose throughout 2010 in England before falling in December, when they averaged £684 a month.
A spokesperson for the Communities and Local Government department said the number of people made homeless due to assured shorthold tenancies ending hit historical lows in 2009. He said the government would press ahead with its plans to let councils discharge their homelessness duties by placing people in the private rented sector.