Evictions in Scotland have soared to levels last seen during the recession as Generation Rent struggles with “sky-high” housing costs and welfare cuts.
Almost 40 people and families a day are now being forced out of their homes, with a near 40 per cent hike in the number of eviction cases being started at court in recent years.
And there are warnings the situation will worsen in coming years as welfare cuts take their toll.
The aftermath of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and stricter lending rules has seen a massive shift towards renting in Scotland, mainly from private landlords, while homeowner numbers have fallen.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “The sky-high cost of housing is stretching many people’s budgets to breaking point and it only takes one life event like losing a job or illness for people to build up arrears and face the threat of eviction.
“Tenants should prioritise paying their rent, but when they do get into arrears we urge landlords to do all they can to help people stay in their homes and to make eviction a last resort.”
It emerged last week that 14,690 evictions were started in Scotland’s courts last year (2015/16). The figures have risen from 10,532 in 2012/13. Before this, as the recession continued to bite in 2010, they stood at 14,160.
A total of 13,905 eviction actions were completed in courts last year, up by more than 1,000 on the previous year.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said it advised on more than 1,000 eviction issues in the first nine months of 2016/17 – an increase of 41 per cent on the same period in the previous year.
CAS policy manager Keith Dryburgh said: “It is worrying that the number of evictions has started to increase again, and is now back at the levels that we saw during the recession in 2010. This suggests that changes in income and austerity could be starting to bite harder again.”
Most evictions come about as a result of rent arrears, but can also be initiated by a breach of tenancy agreements or when the tenancy comes to an end and the occupier refuses to vacate the property.
It emerged last month that rents in Edinburgh and the Lothians have soared in recent years to an average of £726 a month, the highest in Scotland. The number of Scottish households in serious arrears now tops 10,000, according to YourMove – higher than in England and Wales.
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), said: “With more people choosing to rent through the Private Rented Sector, SAL believes there is a need to provide more information and education to reduce the need for evictions by ensuring both tenants and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities to help ensure problems, when they do arise, can be solved quickly and amicably.”
A spokesman for local government body Cosla said: “There is no denying that more and more households are struggling to pay their rent as a result of a squeeze on household incomes and the financial pressures resulting from policies such as Universal Credit. Councils are braced to have to deal with this situation becoming worse in the coming years.”