The cost of unwanted moves

Moving home is expensive - it's even worse when you have no choice in the matter. Unwanted moves are costing private renters in England £229m per year.

In 2019-20, 134,000 private renter households moved home after being evicted, coming to the end of a fixed term tenancy, or being faced with a rent increase. These households faced costs of £1,709 to move home.

We’re calling on the government to introduce open-ended tenancies as part of its reforms to the rental market and require landlords who wish to evict tenants to sell or move back in to cover their tenants’ relocation costs.

At present, renters can be forced to move home if their landlord increases the rent to an unaffordable level, or issues them with a section 21 ‚Äòno fault’ eviction notice after a fixed term ends. This can be issued without giving a reason. The government has committed to abolish section 21.

Our latest analysis finds that the typical up front cost of an unplanned move for the median private renter household is £1,709. This includes:

  • The deposit on a new home, worth five weeks’ rent (£808)
  • Two weeks paying rent on two properties while moving (£323)
  • Time off work to view properties, pack, and move home (£250 for 28 hours at minimum wage)
  • Cleaning costs (two hours at £24)
  • Van hire (one day at £34)
  • Broadband installation (£20)

We have also looked at how different renters are affected. For a single parent with children, this figure is highest, at £1,451 per adult and lowest for sharers in a three-bedroom property, at £731 per adult.

According to the government’s English Housing Survey:

  • 57,000 households moved in the private rented sector after being evicted from a private tenancy
  • 66,000 moved due to a fixed-term tenancy ending
  • a further 11,000 moved due to a rent increase

That’s a total of 134,000 home moves a year that are unwanted. Given the typical cost of moving for each household, these unwanted moves are costing renters £229 million a year.

Our summer survey, which had responses from 884 people who have rented from a private landlord in the last 5 years found that over half (56%) paid more rent when they last moved home. Alongside financial costs, almost half (44%) reported having to move further away from friends or family, 15% were further from a hospital, and 5% had to move their children’s school.

The government has promised a White Paper on reform of the rental market this autumn. We are calling for open-ended tenancies, which would give tenants stability and flexibility, enabling them to put down roots in secure homes that they can call their own. Where landlords wish to sell or move in, they should pay the equivalent of 2 month’s rent towards tenants’ moving costs, to minimise the stress of moving.

Renters are shelling out millions to pay for house moves that they have no choice but to make. Not only is moving home expensive, it can force renters to move away from essential support networks, family and friends, and can disrupt children’s education. Renters deserve secure and stable homes where they can put down roots in their communities and thrive. With tenancies so short and evictions so common, this right is out of reach for millions of private renters. Generation Rent is calling on the Government to commit to open ended tenancies in the upcoming Renters Reform White Paper, and to make landlords contribute to renters’ moving costs in the event of an unplanned and unavoidable move.

Katie, a private renter living in Brighton, said:

“The last time I moved it cost me upwards of £800. I rely on welfare due to my disability, so moving home takes a huge toll financially. My new flat is more expensive, and further away from my local hospital, which I make regular trips to. I’m worried about the prospect of moving again if my current landlord puts the rent up or wants to sell the property, as I’m not sure how I would afford it.”

Read our full analysis of the cost of moving for renters

Media coverage in the Times

Read “A Safe Place to Call Home” – our demands on the government

Join our campaign to end unfair evictions


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