London renters 'face greatest risk of eviction'

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London renters face the greatest threat of being evicted from their homes, according to Shelter

More than 148,000 households in England have faced eviction in the past year, research from Shelter suggests.

The homeless charity says most of those facing eviction lived in London.

It said data illustrated the chronic shortage of affordable homes, adding that the risk of evictions was being exacerbated by welfare cuts.

The government questioned Shelter's figures and said it was "misleading" to suggest that evictions were due to welfare reforms.

Shelter's analysis of Ministry of Justice (MOJ) possession claims data revealed 20 areas across the country where it said renters faced the greatest risk of losing their home.

All but one was in London or the South East.

The data showed possession claims between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, the first stage in a court process that can ultimately lead to eviction.

The London borough of Enfield topped Shelter's list with 2,314 households - equivalent to one in 23 - having been issued with possession claims.

Barking and Dagenham was second with 1,647 households, with Havering, Croydon and Ealing completing the top five.

In Luton, one in 28 households in rented homes were at risk of eviction while in Thurrock, Essex, it was one in 34.

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Mayor Sadiq Khan's office said Londoners had been "short-changed when it comes to renting in the capital"

Latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show rents for private homes in the UK increased by 2.6% in the year to April.

In London private rents rose by 3.7% over the same period.

Threat 'very real'

Shelter said the volume of people facing eviction who were coming to it for advice was growing.

Spokesman Nadeem Khan said: "Every day at Shelter we hear from people who are struggling to keep up with their rent, many in total desperation after the court papers land on their doormat and the threat of being evicted becomes very real."

But a government spokesman said: "Evictions can happen for number of different reasons and to suggest that it is due to welfare reform is misleading.

"The reality is the latest figures show that all stages of landlord repossessions have gone down compared to the same time last year. We have doubled the housing budget and are investing £8bn to build 400,000 affordable homes, including quality homes for rent."

He said Shelter's figures were based on landlord claims and many would not lead to evictions.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: "For too long now, Londoners have been short-changed when it comes to renting in the capital and the mayor is determined to get a grip on the private rented sector.

"The mayor will not stand by as thousands of renters suffer high costs and low standards in London. That's why he will make sure thousands of new affordable homes are built to buy and rent, landlord licensing schemes are promoted across London, and rogue landlords will be named and shamed."