Seven per cent of private tenants now have arrears built up during the Coronavirus period.
A survey of tenants for the National Residential Landlords Association by the research consultancy, Dynata, suggests that some 840,000 are in Covid-arrears.
Whilst the average arrears were between £251 and £500, the survey finds that of those in arrears, 18 per cent now have rent debts of more than £1,000. This equates to over 150,000 renters.
The survey finds that younger people are most likely to have been affected with 14 per cent of renters aged 18 to 24 and 10 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 having built arrears since March.
The self-employed who rent were also most likely to be in arrears, with 17 per cent saying they had developed rent debts since March.
Regionally, 11 per cent of renters in the West Midlands had built arrears since March, the largest proportion of any region in England and Wales. This was followed by London where nine per cent of renters had accrued arrears.
“Our research highlights in stark terms the rent debt crisis now engulfing the rental market says Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive.
“Whilst the vast majority of landlords have done everything possible to support tenants affected due to Covid-19, expecting them to muddle through without further support is hurting tenants as well as landlords.
“Ministers need to accept that simply banning repossessions does nothing to keep tenants in their homes long term. In fact, it will achieve the complete opposite as in kicking the can down the road it just means larger debts piling up creating a bigger problem for tenants and also for landlords. To sustain tenancies the Government needs to provide an urgent financial package to get rent debts built due to the pandemic paid off.”
To keep tenants in their homes, the NRLA is renewing its call for a financial package to help struggling renters to pay off arrears built since lockdown measures began.
This should include a mixture of government guaranteed, interest free, hardship loans and a boost to benefits rather than cutting this support as announced in the government’s autumn Spending Review.