The Generation Rent campaign wants the government to write off private renters’ arrears built up during the pandemic.
And it has repeated its call for the government to increase the Local Housing Allowance to help those private renters with Covid-related rent debt.
The campaign says government figures produced in its Household Resilience Survey, conducted over the summer, suggest that 569,000 private renter households in England are either behind with rent or “at risk of arrears in the summer.”
Baroness Alicia Kennedy, who leads the campaign, says: "To put struggling renters back on their feet, the government must increase Local Housing Allowance to cover average rents and provide grants to clear the rent debts that have built up.”
A statement from Generation Rent selects statistics from the survey which show that seven per cent of private renters were currently in rent arrears, up from three per cent in 2019-20.
It claims that a further nine per cent of private renters said they were very or fairly likely to fall behind with rent payments in the next three months, representing approximately 290,000 households.
Some 35 per cent of private renters are also said to have reported that their household monthly income had decreased by at least £100 due to Covid-19, while the number of private renters who say they expect to buy a home in the future fell from 59 per cent to 49 per cent over the past year.
Those on furlough were more likely to currently be in rent arrears - some 17 per. cent of those on furlough were currently in rent arrears, compared to nine per cent who were not on furlough.
Baroness Kennedy continues: ”These new official figures show just how hard private renters have been hit by the pandemic. Government support has not been enough to stop rent arrears doubling, which is causing severe hardship and crushing the hopes and dreams of thousands.”
The government has not responded to the Generation Rent statement.
However, in September the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government disputed other selected figures quoted by the campaign regarding the number of households that had been served eviction notices. At the time the MHCLG described the figures as “unreliable and misleading.”