Cries for help from renters ‘are increasing as evictions ban due to lift’

Increasing numbers of private tenants are turning to Citizens Advice for help as the lifting of an evictions ban looms.

A ban on bailiff-enforced rental sector evictions in England will end on Monday May 31.

Citizens Advice said there has been a 17% increase in people with issues about being evicted from their private rented accommodation, when comparing January to April 2021 with the first four months of 2020.

The charity has also recorded a 36% increase in the number of people seeking help with a range of problems in the private rented sector, with the figure at 31,700 between January and April 2021 compared with 23,400 people between January and April 2020.

Citizens Advice’s online housing advice has been viewed more than two million times across the first four months of 2021.

A UK survey for Citizens Advice found 8% of private renters are behind on their rent. The average amount of arrears owed has increased from £730 in November 2020 to £907 in April 2021.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has previously said that renters will continue to be supported as national Covid-19 restrictions in England ease.

As part of a phased approach, notice periods – which were previously extended to six months as an emergency measure during the pandemic – will be set at four months from June 1.

One Citizens Advice client, a single parent, said: “When I told my landlord that I was no longer working they said that they would not be able to renew my tenancy as I no longer earned enough to cover the rent. Universal Credit caps the amount that they pay, so I would always be in arrears. I later received a Section 21 notice to leave the property.

“I was so upset as it was not my fault that I had been made redundant or that the housing element of Universal Credit is capped.”

She has asked for help from local charities who have provided her with essentials such as clothes and food.

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Next week, the sticking plaster applied to the English private rented sector during the pandemic will be ripped off.

“Ending the eviction ban puts thousands of renters at risk of losing their home. The Government should put in place a system of grants and Government-backed loans for renters in England who are still financially struggling because of Covid-19.”