Before the pandemic private renting for many meant living with insecurity due to poor legal protection and regulation. Coronavirus has added to the number and made their lives even more precarious.
Local and national Citizens Advice have published evidence that amply justifies our heading, A crisis of insecurity.
In the pandemic year to March 2021 advisers at Citizens Advice Reigate and Banstead helped 37% more people with housing problems than in the previous year. Data for private renting problems is still more arresting. Issues with unhealthy or otherwise unacceptable accommodation were up 120%; with rent and other charge levels 97%; with possession orders or eviction 113% (chart below).
At CARBS we have always been overweight in housing issues. Our borough on the outskirts of Greater London has traditionally offered property and quality of life at rather less than London prices. London boroughs have been known to relocate residents in housing need to an area with rather lower rents. The result has been persistent shortage of affordable property to rent.
The national picture is no better. Citizens Advice reports more than 1 in 3 of its Tenants Voice panellists saying their ability to pay their rent worsened due to the pandemic. 45% did not feel confident about speaking to their landlord – a telling statistic.
Half a million private renters are in arrears and the researchers comment: “this level of financial instability is extremely worrying and will continue to have aftershocks in the long term”. We propose 3 reforms:
Citizens Advice has joined the Renters’ Reform Coalition with 20 charities including Shelter, Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The group is calling on the government to finally bring forward its promised Renters Reform Bill. 3 policy principles summarise the partners’ aims: i) stability and affordability ii) a just housing system iii) safety.
You can support the case for reform by signing Our Petition The government promised to stop no-fault evictions 2 years ago.
Renters are waiting, families and communities still being damaged by insecurity: Bring Forward the Renters’ Reform Bill.