The Generation Rent pressure group has made a last-ditch argument in favour of keeping the evictions ban, which will lapse at the end of this weekend.
In a survey of 1,064 renters - which was conducted by the campaign group itself, not by an independent body - the results showed “one in five private renters who has struggled to pay rent during the pandemic has already been told to move out, given a rent increase or warned that they’ll be evicted.”
The summary of the results put forward by the group continues: “Nearly half of struggling tenants are already searching for a new home but most of those searching (59 per cent) are unable to find one they can afford or a landlord who will accept them.”
The result sample of 1,064 includes 636 private renters on assured shorthold tenancies or licences; of those, 292 had lost income in the pandemic and 343 had not.
Of the private renters who responded, 45 per cent had lost income and five per cent had been asked to move out since March. Two thirds of renters who have lost income (68 per cent) are struggling to pay their rent, and are reducing spending, getting into debt, using up savings or getting into arrears.
Some 14 per cent of private renters who reported losing income are in arrears.
The group claims that this new research shows renters in arrears have little protection against homelessness due to a shortage of affordable properties and a safety net that is “not fit for purpose.”
The groups suggests that the number of renters in debt to their landlords is likely to increase when the furlough scheme is wound down, “as the welfare system is failing to cover renters’ housing costs.”
A statement from Baroness Alicia Kennedy, the group’s new director, says: "Many renters are trying to move but it is proving difficult for them to find a new home. Homelessness will be the only option for somebody as they find themselves with nowhere else to go.
“The government's lack of action is deplorable - renters who have lost income need protection from eviction.
“The Scottish and Welsh Governments have already taken steps to extend protections, but renters in England haven't been so lucky. Generation Rent hears daily from renters who are terrified about what will happen to them once the courts are open and evictions resume next week.
“Many have been unable to work due to the pandemic and have not kept up with rent payments, and others have not even been given a reason for their eviction notice by their landlord – they have simply been told to leave.
“The government must pass emergency legislation to restrict 'no fault' evictions, and those for rent arrears, to ensure renters who have been hit by the pandemic do not lose their homes this autumn. They must also ensure that the safety net is fit for purpose and prevents further arrears from building up.”