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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, a new Generation Rent survey finds today.
Nearly half of struggling tenants are already searching for a new home but most of those searching (59%) are unable to find one they can afford or a landlord who will accept them.
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".
Generation Rent is urging the government to extend protections for renters so they don’t feel forced to move home during the continuing public health and economic crisis.
It comes a day after Labour called for the extension to be made.
Of the private renters who responded to Generation Rent’s survey, 45% had lost income and 5% had been asked to move out since March.
Two thirds of renters who have lost income (68%) are struggling to pay their rent, and are reducing spending, getting into debt, using up savings or getting into arrears. 14% of private renters who reported losing income are in arrears.
Private renters in financial difficulty are 50% more likely than private renters who have not struggled to be at risk of losing or being priced out of their home.
One in five (20%) of those who were struggling have been asked to leave by their landlord, faced a rent increase or been warned that they might have to move out. In comparison, one in eight private renters who have been able to pay rent with no problems (13%) are at risk of losing their home.
While increased rent arrears are likely to fuel evictions, one in 6 respondents who reported facing eviction said (unprompted) that their landlord was selling the property.
However, renters who are behind on rent and trying to move home are struggling to find suitable accommodation. More than half (59%) are unable to find something they can afford or that they’ll be accepted for.
For renters who have been looking for a new home but have firmer finances, 40% report struggling to find a new home.
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.
Generation Rent’s survey found just 18% of people who had applied for benefits since lockdown began had no problems paying rent. This is compared to the 54% of people getting income related benefits before lockdown who have been able to pay in full.
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: "Generation Rent’s new research shows private renters are racking up debt and are already being forced to leave their homes with rent increases and eviction notices. 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.”