When the bailiff threatened to call her out of the blue to change the locks, Elizabeth’s first thought was to call her landlord for help.

But it turned out the landlord had failed to pay the mortgage, so the single mother-of-three was evicted and placed in temporary accommodation by the local council in Oldham, just outside Manchester.

The 49-year-old said not having a permanent home was “very stressful”, adding that although the temporary settlement had flies and a bad smell, it was “better than living on the streets”.

Elizabeth’s story is becoming increasingly common as the UK’s lack of affordable housing collides with growing demand, rising costs of living and squeezed profits faced by landlords.

After years of stagnant housing construction and growing demand, rents in the country have reached their highest levels since the Office for National Statistics began recording them in 2016.

This increase has resulted in areas that did not have significant homelessness problems suddenly facing the problem of increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness.

Historically Oldham has been a relatively affordable place to rent, but its homelessness rate is now almost double the national average, with an 80% increase year-on-year between January and April, with more than 1,000 people living in Oldham There has been a similar increase in the number of children. Emergency housing.

Jasmine Basran, policy and public affairs manager at Homeless Group, said: “Unfortunately, these trends are not surprising and reflect the overall housing crisis that has affected parts of the country, particularly in places that have not traditionally been viewed as such. .” Charity Crisis, adding that a chronic lack of social housing has removed a vital safety net.

The government’s latest homelessness statistics show a growing number of homeless people at the end of the crisis; the number of children living in temporary accommodation in the first three months of this year was 10% higher than the same period last year.

Experts say Britain’s housing shortage is at the heart of the crisis. “This is a huge problem,” said Ben Biddle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association. The answer, he added, is “to address the housing shortage”.

The shortage of rental properties is exacerbated by challenges faced by landlords, who have been hit by rising interest rates and rising mortgage costs over the past year, making buy-to-let investments less attractive.

“Typically, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness do seek affordable housing in the private rental sector,” Baslan said. “But we’re seeing more competition there because people’s Revenues are being squeezed – and landlords, frankly, are considering their options and are struggling.”

Report from real estate consultancy Savills Earlier this year it emerged that net profits for investors in the private rental sector had fallen to their lowest levels since 2007, driven by rising interest rates and tax changes.

Biddle added that an increasing number of landlords were now “disadvantaged” financially. He said even if last year’s increase in mortgage rates was “taken out of the equation” returns would be “pretty paltry” “over a significant period of time”.

He added that while there are no signs yet of landlords leaving the market, anecdotally there are “more people selling than buying, and more people saying they want to sell than investing”. “I just spoke to a lad whose mortgage went from £800 to £1,500 – he can’t pass on a £700 rise in rent… He may have to sell.”

These decisions are incorporating poverty statistics. Government data shows that the number of families made homeless as their landlords sold their homes or raised rents increased by 27% in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the previous year.

There has also been a 41 per cent jump in “no-fault” evictions by bailiffs under Section 21 of the Housing Act, with tenants such as Elizabeth being forcibly evicted despite not breaching their leases.

Evictions are banned during the coronavirus pandemic, but courts in England and Wales have gradually cleared the backlog since 2021.

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UK rents hit highest level since ONS records began in 2016 ©Anthony Devlin/Bloomberg

For families who are completely priced out of renting, local authorities step in to provide temporary accommodation, sometimes of poor quality.

Dr Laura Nelson, chief executive of Greater Manchester homelessness charity Shared Health Foundation, said local authorities often avoid setting too stringent standards for temporary housing lest it lead to “a flood of landlords selling their homes”.

Experts say the freeze in 2016 on local housing subsidies – designed to boost rental benefits for poorer households in the private rented sector – has exacerbated the problem.

an analysis Think tank Institute for Fiscal Studies used data from online property agency Zoopla to find that only 5% of private rents advertised in the UK in the first quarter of 2023 could be paid for using LHAs.

In Manchester, strong demand for housing has caused rents to exceed LHA rents, leading to a severe household homelessness crisis that the city has faced for several years. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the median rent for a three-bedroom house in the city rose by 13% between 2022 and 2023, while in the first quarter of this year, the number of homeless people caused by rent rises or landlord sales increased year-on-year. An increase of 500%.

Louise Emmott of city center property agency Kingsdene said a surge in people living in Manchester and traveling to London regularly since the outbreak began has increased demand. She added that pressure was also being exacerbated by a “significant lack of student accommodation supply”.

Back in Oldham, Elizabeth said that despite the smell of her temporary home, she and her children “kept the windows closed for two weeks” to try to ward off the many flies that kept appearing. “We don’t know where they came from,” she said.

She eventually discovered that the toilet had been clogged for weeks before they moved in.

Arooj Shah: 'We are seeing a worrying increase in the number of Oldham families needing temporary accommodation'
Oldham Council leader Arooj Shah: ‘We are seeing a worrying increase in the number of Oldham families needing temporary accommodation’ ©Joel Goodman/LNP/Shutterstock

Oldham Council leader Arooj Shah apologized for the problems faced by Elizabeth, adding: “We are seeing a worrying increase in the number of families in Oldham needing temporary accommodation. ” This number has “more than doubled in the past three years.”

Shah attributed the growth to “the failure of the private rental sector”.

The Department of Housing and Communities said it has provided councils with £2 billion over three years to help tackle homelessness.

The report states: “Councils have a responsibility to ensure that no family is without a roof over their head, with government funding available to help people find new homes, work with landlords to prevent evictions, or pay for temporary accommodation.”


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