The number of private tenants in England who have fallen behind on rent has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, according to estimates from Shelter.
Polling for the housing charity estimated 226,785 could be at risk of losing their homes when the ban on evictions ends on 23 August because they are now in arrears of eight weeks or more.
Shelter is calling on the government to take action before the ban on new evictions ends next month.
The charity found almost a third - 31% - of renters feel more depressed and anxious about their housing situation. The same proportion of renters said they are having sleepless nights.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, commented: “The financial chaos of Covid-19 means that many private renters are in danger of being evicted when the current ban lifts.”
She added: “The minute the evictions ban lifts, the 230,000 already behind with their rent could be up for automatic eviction if they’ve built up eight weeks worth of arrears. And judges will be powerless to help them.
“That’s more than the entire population of Portsmouth at risk of losing their homes. And let’s not forget: this pandemic is not over.”
Neate wants judges to be given powers “to ensure that no renter is automatically evicted, and the impact of coronavirus is always considered”.
But Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), responded to Shelter’s research by pointing out that landlords have worked closely with tenants throughout the lockdown.
“Our surveys show that the vast majority of landlords have been doing all they can to keep people in their homes,” he said.