A survey claims millions of renter households have concerns about their ability to pay landlords this winter - and the charity behind the study says it wants a “watertight” eviction ban in place.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says some 700,000 private and social renters are already in arrears and 350,000 households (that’s four per cent of all renting households) have already either been served an eviction notice or been spoken to about eviction by their landlord.
Some 70 per cent of tenants who have reduced their spending because of reduced income say they have cut back on good; almost half have cut back on energy spending; and over a third are spending less than before on their children.
The foundation says it wants “a watertight ban on evictions, together with targeted support for rent arrears to prevent a surge of evictions in the spring.”
It claims that a programme of protections put in place at the start of the pandemic are not working for large numbers of renters, with those on lower incomes being hit hardest.
JRF recommends a targeted grant programme designed to address rent arrears, along with guidance for councils to make sure the support reaches people who need it most and that any temporary protection from eviction does not simply delay problems until the spring. This would provide immediate relief for renters, preventing the build-up of problematic levels of debt and allowing them to stay in their homes as the country continues to weather the coronavirus storm.
The foundation director Helen Barnard says: “Millions of people are anxious about paying the rent over winter, having run down their limited savings, reduced their spending and borrowed from friends, family or the bank. The worrying number of households already in arrears shows renters are running out of options. Without action we could see a wave of evictions and a surge in homelessness over the winter.
“The government acted swiftly during the first wave of the pandemic to ensure no one would be forced from their home, rightly recognizing that we all want to protect one another from harm during this crisis. Bringing back a watertight ban on evictions now is the right thing to do.
“But without action which seeks to address growing arrears, any ban on eviction or enforcement only kicks the can down the road, with renters vulnerable to losing their homes again as restrictions are lifted. A targeted package of support to address high rent arrears will give renters and landlords much needed breathing space as we continue to weather the storm.”