The Citizens Advice charity claims to have dealt with a private rental sector case “every two minutes” during December - and now wants financial help for tenants with Covid-created arrears.
The charity claims that 500,000 private tenants in the UK are behind on their rent, and that 58 per cent of those had no rent arrears in February 2020.
“On average, people who have fallen behind on rent now owe £730, which would mean around £360m is owed across the country. Mortgage payers have been able to benefit from formal payment holidays, but renters have been forced to fall back on negotiating month-by-month with their landlords” claims the charity.
A quarter of those the charity surveyed who have rent arrears have already been threatened with eviction, termination of their rental contract, or handed an eviction notice despite the current rules, it is claimed.
Citizens Advice is calling for a legal ban on bailiff action and pause on all possession proceedings during the national lockdown in England beyond the current January 11 deadline, plus “targeted financial support for people in England who’ve built up rent arrears” along the lines of the government-backed loans operating in Wales and Scotland.
“As Coronavirus restrictions once again tighten for everyone, the government must not forget the struggles of private renters. They currently face the prospect of losing their home once the eviction ban ends next week and the debt they have built up is likely to cast a long shadow over their future” says Alistair Cromwell, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice.
“Even though many landlords are trying their best to support their tenants, thousands of renters could face eviction in the coming months without further help. The government must act decisively to prevent evictions in areas subject to the highest coronavirus restrictions. And they should provide targeted support to help people escape the trap of rent arrears in the New Year.”
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