Tenant News

Private rent debts double during the pandemic, government data shows

Em Morley - October 18, 2021

The proportion of private renters in arrears in England has more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new government data.

The latest Household Resilience Study reveals that in April-May 2021, 7% of private renters were in arrears. This is up from 3% in 2019/20, amounting to over 780,000 renters.

An extra 9% indicated that they expected to fall behind with their rent payments over the next 12 months. This comes despite private rents falling in real terms.

With 27% of private renters reporting difficulties in meeting their heating costs in the same period, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) is warning that many renters will struggle to pay off COVID related rent debts, especially with rising bills adding to their burden.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, has commented: “Landlords are being put in a difficult position. They either try to shoulder rent debts they cannot afford or seek to repossess properties as a final resort.

“Without a targeted package of support to pay off COVID rent debts, many tenants run the risk of losing their homes needlessly. They also face the possibility that their credit scores will be damaged, making it more difficult to access new housing in future.

“The Chancellor needs to address this crisis. His continued failure to act signals to the private rented sector that the Government simply does not care about the problem.”