The Household Resilience Study shows that in April-May 2021 7% of private renters were in arrears, up from 3% in 2019/20. This amounts to over 780,000 renters.
An additional 9% indicated that they expected to fall behind with their rents over the next 12 months. This comes despite private rents having dropped in real terms.
With over a quarter – 27% – of private renters having reported difficulties in meeting their heating costs in the same period, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) is warning that with increasing bills now adding to their burden, many renters will struggle to pay off Covid-related rent debts.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “Landlords are being put in a difficult position. They either try to shoulder rent debts they cannot afford or seek to repossess properties as a final resort.
“Without a targeted package of support to pay off COVID rent debts, many tenants run the risk of losing their homes needlessly. They also face the possibility that their credit scores will be damaged, making it more difficult to access new housing in future.
“The chancellor needs to address this crisis. His continued failure to act signals to the private rented sector that the Government simply does not care about the problem.”