Shelter and Generation Rent have separately made a case for more cash help for tenants, claiming the current pandemic and energy crises hit renters particularly badly.
Shelter claims that 26 per cent of adult renters in England (it says this adds up to 5.3m people) already say they cannot keep their homes warm in winter.
And over a third of private renters in England, equivalent to two million households, now receive housing benefit to help pay their rent – up from 25 per cent before the pandemic.
Shelter’s warning comes as the furlough scheme is due to end on Thursday of this week and the government plans to cut the temporary £20 a week boost to Universal Credit next week.
Shelter wants the government to reverse its decision to cut Universal Credit and to instead provide a package of emergency financial aid for renters with Covid-related arrears.
Chief executive Polly Neate says: “The triple whammy of the furlough scheme ending, cuts to Universal Credit and rocketing fuel prices may be the final straw for many renters barely hanging on to their homes. We are facing a perfect storm for homelessness to rise, and the new Housing Secretary [Michael Gove] must get a handle on this before winter arrives.
“Our research shows that one in four renters couldn’t keep their homes warm in winter, even before this latest price hike. No parent should have to choose between putting the heating on, food on the table or paying their rent – but that is the reality for so many families right now. And our helpline is already inundated with calls from people who are terrified of being evicted.
“Renters urgently need a lifeline. The government must reverse its decision to cut Universal Credit and provide emergency grants to renters with Covid-arrears to pay off their debts. Otherwise, homelessness will regrettably rise.”
Meanwhile in a separate call, Generation Rent wants cash for renters who move when a landlord sells up.
“The government has rightly committed to the abolition of Section 21 evictions, but this is too late for the thousands of renters who have faced homelessness while the reforms have been delayed” says Baroness Alicia Kennedy, who is director of the campaigning group.
“To give renters the security that everyone should expect from their home, the government must make sure that the use of new eviction grounds for sale is minimised and landlords who force their blameless tenants out provide adequate financial support.”
Her group claims that over 40,000 households in England have been threatened with homelessness using Section 21 eviction grounds in the two years since the government promised to abolish such powers.
It then singles out the London borough of Hillingdon - which contains the constituency of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Generation Rent claims Hillingdon has “the second worst rate in the country with 29 in every 1000 private renter households having faced homelessness after complaining about disrepair, or their landlord decided to sell or re-let their home.”
The activist group wants the government’s upcoming White Paper on the Private Rented Sector to include measures that allow renters to challenge evictions when the landlord wishes to sell, and wants tenants to be given financial support “if forced to move for reasons outside their control.”
Baroness Kennedy continues: “Being forced to move for reasons outside your control creates unimaginable stress, uproots you from your community and disrupts children’s education. Right now landlords need no reason to inflict this on their tenants.”
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