Stevenage among worst for eviction rates

Stevenage Borough Council offices

Stevenage Borough Council offices - Credit: Archant

One in every 65 households in Stevenage is at risk of eviction or repossession – one of the highest rates in the country.

Research by housing and homelessness charity Shelter shows that 536 landlord and mortgage possession claims – the first stage of a legal process which can end with a person or family being evicted – were made for homes in Stevenage between October 2012 and September 2013.

Of the 325 local authorities in England, Stevenage has the 29th highest rate of possession claims in the country; the third highest rate in the East of England.

The research, based on recorded court proceedings, puts North Herts 18th out of the 47 local authorities in the East of England, with 461 – 1 in 116 – possession claims between October 2012 and September 2013.

Central Beds is ranked 17th, with 903 – 1 in 116 – possession claims during the same period.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “This is a frightening reminder that homelessness can happen to anyone.

“Times are tough, and these days it doesn’t take much to tip a family into the spiral that leads to homelessness.

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“The Government needs to rebuild our shredded housing safety net so that it’s there to catch those who fall on hard times, and allow them to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

The research by Shelter includes both private and social housing.

Last month, social housing landlord Stevenage Borough Council said it was contacting more than 60% of its tenants who are in rent arrears.

A spokesman for the council said: “Shelter’s statistics show that 536 possession proceedings were instigated in Stevenage between October 2012 and September 2013. This is not the actual number of possession orders granted by the court, or the actual number of evictions that took place, it indicates the start of a process that could lead to a person or a family being evicted. Sadly, debt problems, non-payment of rent and mortgages and the resultant evictions are symptoms of challenging economic times.

“Stevenage Borough Council works hard to try and prevent people from losing their homes. As a responsible landlord we make every effort to help council tenants sustain their tenancy. When tenants fall into rent arrears, we work with them and provide support and advice. Stevenage Borough Council has adapted and continues to adapt its services to suit the changing needs of residents.”