Opinion Research Welfare Reform and Homelessness

RLA criticises ‘misleading and distorted’ evictions report

Alan Ward
Written by Alan Ward

The RLA has written to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation following the publication of a ‘misleading and distorted’ report into evictions in the PRS.

In the letter RLA chairman Alan Ward asked new chief executive Campbell Robb, to explain how the foundation came to the conclusion that the number of evictions was greater in the PRS than the social sector, when official figures from the Ministry of Justice show the opposite to be true.

The full text is below. The RLA will update members with any response.


Dear Campbell,

I hope you are enjoying your new role at JRF and I’m sorry to have to raise the points contained below.

I was interested to read the JRF’s recent research on evictions in the private rented sector.

Whilst the RLA is well aware of the impact of recent welfare reforms, we are seriously concerned about the potentially misleading and distorted presentation of official statistics on repossessions.

I should therefore welcome an early response to a number of questions.

Possession Statistics

The report notes that “the number of tenants evicted by private landlords exceeded the number evicted by social landlords for the first time in 2014.”

As you know, the Ministry of Justice’s Mortgage and Landlord Possession Statistics break landlord possessions into three groups:

  • Social landlord repossessions;
  • Private landlord repossessions; and
  • Possessions using the accelerated procedure which can be used by both private and social sector landlords[1]. The Ministry of Justice data does not distinguish between which types of landlord use the accelerated procedure.

Table 7 of the Ministry of Justice’s January-March 2017 mortgage and landlord possession statistics[2] show the number of landlord possession claims in the county courts of England and Wales by type of procedure and landlord. Since 2014, the results have been as follows.

Landlord Type
Accelerated Private Social Total Claims Issued
Q1 2014 9,020 6,486 31,702 47,208
Q2 2014 9,244 5,828 23,430 38,502
Q3 2014 9,207 5,689 25,956 40,852
Q4 2014 8,548 5,110 24,557 38,215
TOTAL 2014 36,019 23,113 105,645 164,777
Q1 2015 9,469 5,548 27,203 42,220
Q2 2015 10,013 5,038 21,160 36,211
Q3 2015 9,877 5,256 23,529 38,662
Q4 2015 9,043 4,870 22,685 36,598
TOTAL 2015 38,402 20,712 94,577 153,691
Q1 2016 8,877 5,200 23,969 38,046
Q2 2016 9,514 5,115 19,371 34,000
Q3 2016 8,528 5,125 20,753 34,406
Q4 2016 7,334 4,888 18,695 30,917
TOTAL 2016 34,253 20,328 82,788 137,369
Q1 2017 (p) 7,716 5,460 22,012 35,188

These results clearly show that in every year since 2014 social sector landlords have made more claims to repossess a property than private sector landlords.

This would be the case even if every claim using the accelerated procedure was undertaken by private sector landlords.  I would therefore be grateful if you could provide an explanation as to how JRF has arrived at the conclusion that “the number of tenants evicted by private landlords exceeded the number evicted by social landlords for the first time in 2014”.

The press release to accompany the JRF’s report noted too that “Over 40,000 tenants were evicted from their homes by landlords in 2015.” It later goes on to say that: “Of the 40,000 evictions, there were 19,019 repossessions in the social housing sector, and 22,150 in the private rented sector.”

Such a statement cannot however be made based on the figures in the MoJ’s statistics tables accompanying the January-March 2017 mortgage and landlord possession statistics.

Table 8 provides the mortgage and landlord possession workload in the county courts of England between1999 – 2017. For those repossessions that led to the courts sending bailiffs in, the figures are as follows.

Repossessions by County Court Bailiffs
Accelerated Private Social All repossessions by county court bailiffs
2014 19,983 6,197 14,461 40,641
2015 19,095 5,919 16,439 41,453
2016 17,491 5,852 15,747 39,090
Q1 2017 4,045 1,524 3,511 9,080

 This data very clearly shows that since 2014, more bailiffs have been sent to repossess properties in the social rented sector than in the private rented sector.

The only way that it could be shown that there were more bailiffs involved in repossession cases in the private rented sector would be to assume that every accelerated procedure was for the private rented sector which as well as being undocumented is unlikely given the documented balance between private and social landlord evictions. I would be grateful therefore if the JRF could make clear where its figures have come from

English Housing Survey and the NAO

I should finally be grateful for an explanation as to why, in a report on security of tenure, the JRF has failed to note that, accordingly to the English Housing Survey for 2015/16, the average length of time a tenant has been in their current private rented property is now 4.3 years.

Likewise, the survey showed that 73% of private sector tenants had moved from their previous property because they chose to, 11%  said that their landlord or agent ended the tenancy and just 2% said it was because of a rent increase by their landlord.

Likewise, the JRF report failed to report that the National Audit Office has noted that “since 2006, the cost of private rented accommodation has broadly followed changes in earnings across England”, whilst social rents have “increased faster than earnings since 2001-02.”[3]

Given the clear public interest in this issue, I am publishing this letter on the RLA website, and copying in Sir Andrew Dilnot as Chair of the UK Statistics Authority.

I look forward to receiving a swift response.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Ward


[1] Office for National Statistics, Housing summary measures analysis: 2015, 7th October 2016, available at:

[2] Ministry of Justice, Mortgage and landlord possession statistical tables: January to March 2017, 11th May 2017, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mortgage-and-landlord-possession-statistics-january-to-march-2017.

[3] National Audit Office, Housing in England: overview, 19th January 2017, page 7, available at https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Housing-in-England-overview.pdf.

About the author

Alan Ward

Alan Ward

Alan is the Chairman of the RLA. He has been a landlord and property developer in the PRS since 1993, became a founding director in 1998, and has been the RLA chairman since 2008.

He believes the PRS provides an essential service to the nation with little recognition for its economic contribution. He says regulation is pointless without effective enforcement, and that requires an intelligence-lead approach to target the criminals.

He has faith in the well-meaning majority of landlords to self-regulate. He despises the criminals and frauds who disproportionately concentrate the minds of those in Westminster and town halls.


  • An excellent analysis backed up by relevant official statistics. Its a pity an organisation such as the JRT feels the need to distort the facts to plug its own narrow worldview. The JRT has a long history of excellent and genuine social intervention that in the past has been a benchmark for others to match. However, as is the case with so many “charities” in the modern virtual world, they are in danger of sinking to the level of just another political caucus masquerading behind charitable status.
    Tell the relevant facts, all the relevant facts and nothing but the relevant facts= “the truth”.

  • Hi, the 3 organisations you’ve listed – ONS / MOJ / NAO – and the data/statistics they’ve produced surely CAN’T BE completely accurate? I’m guessing that they don’t include S21 repossessions that don’t reach court/bailiff stage – i.e. where tenants’ simply leave after the required notice ends. This WOULD increase the ratio of private repossessions – but such data wouldn’t be available to those agencies [unless sample surveys are used/adjusted instead of factual data?]

    • This does not change the basis of the criticism of the JRF report by the RLA ie that its’ claims are unsubstantiated.

  • Seems Cambell has a bit of a hangover from leaving Shelter… Still believes the slanted views Shelter produce whilst disregarding the facts. Great Job Alan … vincit omnia veritas !

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