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RLA slams Joseph Rowntree Foundation for ‘misleading’ evictions report

Claims made by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that the number of evictions was greater in the private rented sector than the social sector have been described as ‘misleading and distorted’ by the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA).

The RLA decided to criticise the foundation after official figures from the Ministry of Justice show the opposite to be true.

RLA chairman, Alan Ward, has written a letter to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s new chief executive Campbell Robb asking him to explain how the foundation came to the conclusion.


The full text from the letter is below.

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


Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    You just need to visit the local court on a possession day to see the truth. In my court in Peterborough the social cases outnumber the private cases at about a 3 to 1 ratio every time I've been there.

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    I am very pleased to see the RLA's intervention here. This fake analysis of data of research and data is so damaging to the private rented sector and the economy as a whole. I have forwarded this article to all my contacts at the national newspapers in addition to writing a piece on the issue myself, which I hope might be published. People like Dan Wilson Craw seem to be able to get their flawed thinking showcased in national newspapers, whilst the truth of these matters is not reported nationally.

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    Go, Alan Ward and the RLA! The JRF/Shelter/Guardian are a coalition of jokers. Bet CR doesn't reply.

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    robb is a piece of garbage

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    There is another area of the report which is misleading. On page 1 the full report states:

    “National data from the English Housing Survey suggests that just under a quarter of current tenants reported that their last move from private rented properties in England was forced in some way, and was not because they wanted to move.”

    This implies that landlords had forced almost a quarter of them out “in some way”.

    This is a gross distortion which the EHS table belies, on page 17 of the report. It shows that 8% had been asked to leave, and 2% had left because of a rent increase, making a total of 10%.

    The other reasons making up the “forced endings” were Mutual agreement (8%), The tenancy was for a fixed period (6%) and Accommodation tied to job and job ended (2%) which total 16%.

    The latter group were were natural endings, not forced “in some way”.

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    More trouble with percentages The full report states, at the foot of page 12: “Since 2003, the number of social rented homes has flatlined, while the number of private rented homes has nearly doubled, growing by 186% from 2.5 million homes to 4.75 million by 2015.”

    The increase is exactly 90%, but this has been more than doubled by the writer.


    Yes, there is a lot of flawed work coming out of the Cambridge Centre, commissioned by the JRF. The main problem is usually the whole concept - and it goes downhill from there. Earlier in the year, these two collaborated on a study with the idea of us learning lessons from how the private rented sector in the Republic of Ireland. The basic assumption behind the whole report was that this was a model we should emulate. In fact, my impression of the Irish private rented sector is that it is a shambles and reminiscent of '70s Britain, with poor quality housing and very conflictual landlord-tenant relations.

    Similarly, with this report, the whole concept was wrong - based on only looking at the private rented sector, and not the social sector - where evictions are at a similar rate - and assuming that 'no fault' eviction is the equivalent to landlords evicting without any reason when we evict for the same reason as the social sector (usually 'crap tenants').

    We all know that Section 21 is used because it is a faster and more reliable way of getting rogue tenants out and minimising our huge losses at the hands of these criminals. In the eyes of Generation Rent, Shelter and now Shelter Mark 2 (the JRF will now follow Campbell Robb's anti-private landlord obsession/vendetta) rogue tenants are 'vulnerable' tenants, whom we 'turf out' for no reason. As if we would evict good tenants when change of tenancies, legal action and voids cost us money. It makes no sense.

    They also, in the report, call them '2 month' notice periods - when we also all know that the average is closer to 6 months. They are only 'theoretically 2 months' but 'actually 6 months.'

    These destructive reports based on anti-private landlord sentiment continue like a juggernaut damaging the PRS. If they carry on like this, we will be like the Irish setup and God help the decent tenants and the decent landlords - both of whom are in the majority and both of whom will be hammered by all this destructive policy-making.

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    Come on guys, don't be too critical the authors must be embarrassed enough already, spare their feelings.
    Was the original paper peer reviewed, as are all dependable scientific publications? If it was then I suggest that the reviewer be censored, as should the report. If the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is to retain it's credibility then it should withdraw the report pending further analysis of the figures and a reliable and totally independent peer review of the resultant paper.


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