There has been a sharp rise in illegal evictions by rogue landlords, it has been claimed.
According to The Independent, illegal evictions have surged by up to 50% in some areas since the coronavirus pandemic began.
One housing officer in London told the newspaper that in one of the most extreme cases, a tenant was beaten unconscious and left homeless and sleeping in a park during the pandemic after he was three days late with his rent.
More commonly, locks are simply changed and a tenants’ possessions removed from the property without consent.
With a high number of households falling into rent arrears as a consequence of the coronavirus, tenant relations officers (TROs) fear a large jump in illegal evictions in the coming weeks and months.
Legal evictions are once again permitted, but landlords must give six months notice in most cases.
Solicitor Giles Peaker said: “There are a number of problems with what the government has done. They haven’t dealt with the underlying issue of rent arrears at all. They’ve effectively punted the problem further down the line.”
Ben Reeve-Lewis, a TRO with Safer Renting which works with local authorities and supports tenants facing harassment, also expects to see a spike in illegal evictions.
He commented: “Landlords who wouldn’t generally be in the criminal end of the market are resorting to taking a chance out of frustration with tenants unable to pay their rent.
“We are already feeling it at Safer Renting. With such a big increase in illegal evictions already, we have had to employ another two case workers to cope.
“I've been a TRO for 30 years and never seen it this bad.”