At least half a million private rental tenants are in arrears as a result of Covid-19. Official figures show private renters have been hardest hit. This has led to an unusual collective call* for action to head off a homelessness crisis.
Every private rental sector interest has joined last week’s move. Residential landlords, debt and housing charities, mortgage providers, poverty campaigners and Citizens Advice all signed a letter asking the chancellor to take emergency and longer-term measures.
We want to see a support package to help renters pay off arrears built up since March last year. This is urgent now to ‘sustain existing tenancies’ and prevent residual debt from blighting people’s efforts to find suitable homes in the future.
Then the government should reform the benefits system to give people ‘the security of knowing that they can afford their homes’.
Ministers brought in the uplift to Universal Credit and Housing Benefit because the system was not doing enough in the first place. But these supports are set to disappear in April. ‘It cannot be right that these measures could be pulled away from renters during continued economic uncertainty’.
Since October last year CARBS advisers have helped 200 clients with private rental sector problems. More generally, it’s notable that a fifth of all our clients who asked for advice about debt issues were also facing housing difficulties.
* Joint statement by The Big Issue Ride Out Recession Alliance, Crisis, Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Money Advice Trust, The Mortgage Works, National Residential Landlords Association, Nationwide Building Society, Propertymark, StepChange Debt Charity, Shelter.