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Over 800,000 private renters in England and Wales have built rent arrears since lockdown measures began, according to new research commissioned by the National Residential Landlords Association.
Based on a survey of over 2,000 tenants, this estimated that 7 per cent of private renters have built average arrears averaging between £251 and £500. But, said research consultancy Dynata which conducted the study, almost a fifth of those in arrears now owe more than £1,000,
Younger people are among those most likely to have been affected with 14 per cent of renters aged 18 to 24, and 10 per cent of those aged 25 to 34, having built arrears since March.
Self-employed tenants are also hard hit, with 17 per cent saying they had developed rent debts since March.
Regionally, 11 per cent of renters in the West Midlands had built arrears since March, the largest proportion of any region in England and Wales. London tenants were the next most likely to be behind in rent, with 9 per cent per cent in arrears.
‘Our research highlights in stark terms the rent debt crisis now engulfing the rental market’, said NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.
‘Whilst the vast majority of landlords have done everything possible to support tenants affected due to COVID-19, expecting them to muddle through without further support is hurting tenants as well as landlords.
‘Ministers need to accept that simply banning repossessions does nothing to keep tenants in their homes long term. In fact, it will achieve the complete opposite – kicking the can down the road just means larger debts piling up, creating a bigger problem for tenants and also for landlords.
‘To sustain tenancies the Government needs to provide an urgent financial package to get rent debts built due to the pandemic paid off’.
Private landlords have been giving more help to tenants who cannot pay their rent as a result of Covid than those in the social sector, said the NRLA.
Relying on English Housing Survey data, it said that since the start of the pandemic 6 per cent of private renters had secured a reduction in rent, compared to only 2 per cent in the social sector. Another 5 per cent of private renters had agreed a rent holiday with their landlord, compared to 3 per cent in the social sector. An additional 12 per cent of private tenants had reached some other form of agreement with their landlords, compared to 9 per cent of social tenants.