Almost 230,000 renters could lose their home when the Government’s ban on evictions comes to an end in August.
An estimated 3pc of adults living in rented accommodation owe almost two months' worth of money to their landlord, research by charity Shelter has shown. Normally, any tenant who owes eight weeks of rent or more can be automatically evicted.
Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced that no one would be kicked out of their home during the crisis. The ban on evictions was originally due to end on June 25 but was extended until August 23.
The pandemic has caused great financial distress for many tenants, a large number of whom are young people working insecure jobs in sectors that have had to shut down during lockdown.
The total number of private renters in arrears is now 442,000 adults, according to Shelter. This is 5pc of all renters and double what it was in the same period last year.
Since Britain first entered lockdown in late March, one in four of the calls and messages the charity has received from private renters has been from people worried about losing their home. It is urging the Government to step in and extend protections for renters while the financial effects of the pandemic are still being felt.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The Housing Secretary promised no one would lose their home because of coronavirus but the financial chaos of Covid-19 means that many private renters are in danger of being evicted when the current ban lifts. Unless he acts now, he will break his promise and put thousands of renters at risk of homelessness.”
Landlords have not been immune to the crisis either. Many have been unable to benefit from the payment holidays being offered to mortgage holders as they own their property outright and are reliant on the income from their properties.
Chris Norris of National Residential Landlords Association, a membership body, said the vast majority of landlords had been doing all they could to keep people in their homes.
“Although no landlord can afford to absorb long-term losses of income, eviction is not and should not be seen as the inevitable outcome of getting behind with rent payments. Tenants and landlords should hold discussions about how to address rent arrears and sustain tenancies,” he added.
“It is important to distinguish between tenants affected by Covid-19 and those who were building rent arrears before lockdown, sometimes for several months and sometimes wilfully.”
Mr Norris said when courts restarted hearing possession cases in August, the latter should be prioritised.
A Government spokesman said it had taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic and provide protections to prevent them being forced from their homes. “We’re working with the judiciary to provide appropriate protection to those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus when proceedings start again,” he said.
Are you a tenant at risk of losing your home? Get in touch with The Telegraph by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org