Renters struggling to pay for food and other essentials, survey finds

More than two-fifths of renters whose work has been impacted by coronavirus have struggled to pay for essentials such as food and keeping a roof over their head, a survey has found.

The majority (58%) of renters who were working before the Covid-19 outbreak report they have had their employment impacted in some way, and this has provoked further issues, research agency Opinium said.

Over two-fifths (43%) of renters whose work has been impacted have struggled to pay rent, bills or for other essentials such as food, the survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK in early April found.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of those whose employment has been impacted have had to choose between paying for food and other essentials or rent.

A quarter (25%) have had to voluntarily leave their home, move in with friends or parents, or request for their tenancy to end earlier than planned to avoid paying rent.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of renters whose employment has been impacted by the outbreak have already had to dip into savings to pay for day-to-day life.

In addition, nearly three-quarters (73%) of landlords are worried their tenants will not be able to pay all or part of the rent. Seven in 10 (70%) landlords are concerned that their tenants will move out, leaving them with an empty property.

James Endersby, chief executive at Opinium, said: “Our research shows that renters are finding it particularly tough. Many have found their employment situation has changed, but their rental payments still remain, and this is already becoming a struggle for some. A substantial number of renters have had to use savings or financial help to get by and, if we are in this predicament for the long term, then their problems will only get worse.

“It’s clear that renters do not have the full perspective of their rights and entitlements that are crucial in guiding them through the outbreak, but these measures could make all the difference.”

The research found just below a fifth (19%) of renters surveyed were unaware the Government had said that landlords would not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.

The Government has also previously announced that landlords can apply for three-month payment holidays on buy-to-let mortgages.

David Cox, chief executive, Arla (Association of Residential Letting Agents) Propertymark urged renters and landlords to look into the help available.

He said: “Both renters and landlords should take full advantage of the Government schemes available during this difficult period.”