Paul Shamplina, the man behind Landlord Action and a Channel 5 show on handling rental crises, is warning that county courts are facing an ”eviction avalanche” shortly.
The latest bailiff-led eviction ban ends on May 31 and courts are faced with processing and enforcing the backlog.
Shamplina says that with the exception of last year, the number of evictions has been steadily falling, since its peak in 2015, by an average of eight per cent a year.
In 2019, some 30,813 evictions were carried out by county courts in England and Wales, suggesting there would probably have been 28,000 evictions in 2020 had the pandemic and eviction bans not intervened.
But in reality only 7,451 evictions took place, of which 6,903 were between January and March 2020, prior to the national lockdown.
“Unfortunately, we now have a situation where cases are backed up, new cases are arising all the time and the scale of the issue is impossible to predict because so many are still being cushioned by support such as furlough, business grants and/or mortgage holidays. When this package of measures comes to an end, and without government support to help tenants pay back accumulated arrears, I fear we could be heading for an eviction avalanche” warns Shamplina.
According to Landlord Action, prior to the pandemic, cases with six months’ rent arrears were rare as the process to evict was much quicker and would usually be carried out prior to arrears reaching such levels.
Now, more than 60 per cent of new instructions to Landlord Action have six months’ rent arrears, meaning all of these cases will meet the exemption criteria and require court action.
Even if they do not go on to end in eviction, all these cases must be processed by county courts.
In 2019 there were 110,907 claims issued, of which 87,698 turned into orders. In 2020, there were 39,681 claims issued, of which 22,115 turned into orders.
“Thousands of landlords have got court orders outstanding from a year ago and warrants due to expire, leaving them having to reapply to the courts. We don’t yet know if these landlords will be at the front or the back of the queue” according to Shamplina.