Urgent action needed to tackle rental debts crisis, organisations warn

7 January 2021, 11:54

Letting agents' signs
Rental debts. Picture: PA

A call for action has been issued by bodies including the National Residential Landlords Association, Shelter, StepChange and Nationwide.

Tenants, landlords and letting agents need urgent support as the rent debts crisis worsens, according to a call for action backed by various bodies.

A joint statement, backed by organisations including the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), Shelter, StepChange Debt Charity and Nationwide Building Society, calls for a package of measures to help renters pay off arrears built since March 2020 when the initial lockdown started.

They warned that without further action, debts will keep building and it will be harder to keep renters in their homes.

The call is also backed by the Big Issue, Ride Out Recession Alliance and Arla (Association of Residential Letting Agents) Propertymark.

The statement said: “Many thousands of private renters and landlords across the country now face rent arrears due to the impact of the pandemic.

“Ministers have failed to address the core problem of debts which have built despite the financial package put in place so far.”

Earlier this week, Citizens Advice estimated that around one in 10 private renters are behind with their payments.

On average, people who have fallen behind on rent now owe £730, which could potentially mean around £360 million is owed in total across the UK, Citizens Advice said.

Pressure has also been mounting on the Government to ensure people cannot be evicted from their homes going forward during lockdown.

The joint statement continued: “Renters, landlords and letting agents cannot be expected simply to muddle through indefinitely where they face these financial difficulties.

“The Government needs to develop an urgent package to help renters in paying off arrears built since March last year.

“Without further action, debts will continue to mount, making it far more difficult to sustain tenancies and keep renters in their homes after the pandemic.”

By Press Association