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Coronavirus: Renters struggle more than homeowners with pandemic costs

Renters are finding it more difficult to meet their payments than homeowners during the pandemic. Photo: Getty

Renters are struggling the most with housing costs according to new research by the Resolution Foundation.

One in eight of private renters have fallen behind with payments since the COVID-19 pandemic began, compared to just one in 12 of home owners.

The think tank said this reflected the higher costs faced by private renters with their average pre-crisis housing costs being 32% of family income, compared to 11% among mortgaged homeowners.

The survey shows they also have less of a financial buffer to fall back on, with almost 23% of private renters having no savings in the run-up to the crisis, compared to 11% of home owners.

While renters receive more generous benefit support than those with mortgages, home owners with a mortgage have been more successful accessing support outside the social security system to cope with the crisis, said the foundation.

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One in seven have applied for a mortgage holiday, the vast majority of which have been accepted. In contrast, just one in 10 private renters have asked for a rent reduction from their landlord, and just half of those requests were successful.

This has caused renters to reduce their spending costs with young people moving back in with their parents and others reporting that they are unable to afford basics such as fresh fruit and vegetables or save £10 a month.

Resolution Foundation, which based its findings on a YouGov survey of 6,000 UK adults, is calling on government to recognise the needs of renters.

“Britain already had a huge housing divide before coronavirus struck, and the current economic crisis has only widened that gap. People living in private rented accommodation have found it harder to meet their housing costs than homeowners in recent months, and harder to negotiate reductions in those costs,” said Lindsay Judge, principal research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation.

"The result is that a quarter are cutting back on other spending, in many cases on essentials, to cover their rent during this crisis," she continued.

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“Policy makers need to recognise that, while the 1990s recession was infamously most severe for the UK’s home owners, this recession is biting hardest for renters,” she added.

Since the coronavirus outbreak the government has banned evictions for three months and increased the local housing allowance.

But the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has warned "there is a looming crisis in the private rental sector".