Renters struggling with rising energy bills should be protected from higher rents, Generation Rent argues as it calls for a ban on rent increases.
With rents rising in the lettings market, the campaign is also calling for a pause on evictions to stop tenants facing homelessness.
The call comes as Rishi Sunak reportedly told the Cabinet that home owners face increased mortgage payments of £1000 per year. But renters are bearing the brunt of rising prices. The Office for National Statistics revealed that 59% of renters were finding it difficult to pay energy bills in March, compared with 43% of mortgaged home owners.
Nearly half of renters responding to the ONS’s Opinion and Lifestyle Survey (47%) are already spending less on food and essentials, compared with a third of mortgaged home owners (31%) and one in four outright owners (24%).
While home owners could be hit by rising rates, renters have it worse. A third of renters (34%) reported that their rent had increased in the past six months, compared with 19% of mortgaged home owners saying that repayments had increased. Six percent of renters are in arrears, compared with a negligible number of home owners.
Renters are in a precarious position, with just 38% able to pay an unexpected bill of £850, compared with 61% of mortgaged home owners.
Renters’ prospects of buying their own home are dim: just 30% believe they will be able to save money in the next 12 months, compared with 44% of mortgaged home owners. And renters are more likely to be borrowing more money or using more credit than a year ago – 26% compared with 19% of mortgaged home owners.
With renters most exposed to the cost of living crisis, Generation Rent is calling on the government to:
- Ban increases in rent for the duration of the cost of living crisis
- Suspend the use of Section 21 evictions, where the landlord does not need a reason to evict, and Section 8 Ground 8 evictions, where tenants in more than 2 months’ of rent arrears cannot challenge an eviction
- Unfreeze Local Housing Allowance so benefit claimants can pay the rent – rates are frozen at 2019-20 levels
- Restore Discretionary Housing Payment funding to 2020-21 levels, when £180m was available for renters struggling with housing costs
- Reinstate the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift
- Ban landlords from demanding multiple months’ rent up front – a tactic used to deny benefit claimants a home
- Increase funds to clear tenants’ rent arrears from the £65m provided in October 2021
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: “Although interest rates are rising, home owners are able to minimise costs by remortgaging. Renters don’t have the same option: if your landlord thinks they can get a higher rent from a new tenant, there’s not much you can do. If you try to negotiate, your landlord can simply serve a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice.
“With renters so vulnerable to rent hikes and incomes stagnant, this causes impossible choices between paying rent and putting food on the table. Without a suspension of evictions and a rent freeze, the cost of living crisis will lead to spiralling rent arrears and homelessness for thousands of families.”