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Are young renters being forced to choose between rent debt and health?

Em Morley - November 13, 2020

With rules limiting what young people can claim for housing benefit, the NRLA says they are being forced to choose between racking up debts and risking their health.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) points out that those under the age of 35 relying on benefit to pay their rent for the first time will find that support will only be available to cover the cost of a room in a shared house.

The NRLA is warning that this will force many young renters to choose between building unsustainable debts or moving into cheaper, shared housing. People might be forced to either move home in the middle of lockdown restrictions or potentially end up living with strangers with all the health risks that this poses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Welfare Minister Will Quince, the NRLA has called on the Government to urgently adopt the recommendations of the Social Security Advisory Committee and suspend the Shared Accommodation Rate rule. The NRLA argues that this should be for a period of at least a year.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “It is unacceptable that younger renters are being forced to choose between building debts or compromising their health during a pandemic.

“Whilst the vast majority of landlords have done everything they can to support renters whose finances have been hit due to the virus, it cannot be right that landlords and tenants are left to muddle through without greater support.  

“If money can be found to subsidise meals out, the Government must find the finances needed to support tenants, and in turn landlords, to pay off rent arrears, sustain tenancies and protect people’s health.” 

The call comes as government statistics show a significant increase in the proportion of Universal Credit claimants in the younger age brackets. In the four weeks to the 8th October, the proportion of claimants aged between 16 and 24 was just over 27%, up from 21% in the four weeks to the 12th March.