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Forced home moves cost renters over half a billion pounds a year | Housing

Unwanted home moves cost renters over half a billion pounds a year, with tenants coughing up an average of £669 every time they are forced by landlords to leave their home, a survey has revealed.

Analysis by the homelessness charity Shelter estimated that there had been 830,000 unwanted moves in England over the past 12 months, meaning 40% of renters who move house are doing so because they have been compelled to look for other accommodation.

An unwanted move is defined as a fixed-term tenancy coming to an end, or tenants being priced out by a rent increase, being served an eviction notice or being informally asked to leave by the landlord.

Renters collectively spend £550m a year on moving costs, often paying rent and bills on two properties during the moving period, along with hiring removal vans, paying for stopgap storage and buying new furniture, Shelter estimates.

Natalie, 47, has moved 12 times in the past 21 years, and has been served with two no-fault evictions in the past 18 months. Although she has been in her new home for seven months, she still cannot relax and feels traumatised by her moving experiences. “I haven’t even unpacked properly,” she said. “I’m worried that as soon as I do, I’m going to have to move again.

“I’ve downsized to a studio. Most of my stuff is stored in a garage nearby that I’m renting for £75 and I had to shell out £750 on removal van hire alone. It took me 18 months just to pay back all the debts accrued from the last move, and then it happened all over again.

“There is nothing worse than being forced to move home,” she added. “Without a stable foundation, how can you lead a fruitful life?”

“This is money that renters will never see again,” said Tarun Bhakta, policy manager for Shelter. “It’s not a deposit that you may or may not get back at the end of your tenancy, it’s not money for your rental, it’s simply costs down the drain. Money for a removal van, for packing boxes, for new furniture; these are avoidable expenses that tenants are having to make against their will.

“Because of an abnormally and unreasonably unstable rental system, tenants are having to cough up millions and millions of pounds each year in moves that could otherwise be avoided, if the government had a backbone and delivered a strong, watertight renters’ reform bill.”

In April, the government signalled that it would make amendments to the long awaited bill, delaying the ban on section 21 evictions – the two-month notice, “no fault” compulsory orders to leave the property – and reneging on the promise to overhaul fixed-term tenancies.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that average rents have increased by £107 a month nationally, and by £207 a month in London over the past year.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “Tenants are coughing up millions in unwanted and unwarranted moves, while the government runs scared of a minority of its own MPs. Instead of striking dodgy deals with backbenchers to strangle the renters’ reform bill, ministers should defend renters’ best hope of a stable home.

“With protections from eviction so weak and rents so high, we constantly hear from people forced out of their homes and communities at huge personal cost. It’s impossible for renters to put down roots knowing a no-fault eviction could plunge them back into chaos at any moment.”

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “The renters (reform) bill will deliver the manifesto commitment to abolish section 21 evictions. It will be returning to the House of Commons shortly.”

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