Renters need targeted support to help them clear arrears, campaign says

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

Renters need a targeted support package to help them clear arrears built up during the coronavirus pandemic, a group of organisations including charities and landlords is urging.

At least half a million private renters are in arrears due to the economic impact of Covid-19, according to previous UK research from Citizens Advice.

The joint call is being made by the Big Issue Ride Out Recession Alliance, Crisis, Citizens Advice, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Money Advice Trust, the Mortgage Works, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), Nationwide Building Society, Propertymark, StepChange Debt Charity and Shelter.

The statement said renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since lockdown cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support.

It says: “Without additional support, more renters will lose their homes in the coming months, with the risk of an increase in homelessness.

“As organisations with the aim of sustaining tenancies wherever possible we consider that this requires two things in the forthcoming Budget (on March 3).

“First, a targeted financial package to help renters pay off arrears built since lockdown measures started in March last year. This will help to sustain existing tenancies and keep renters in their homes – whilst also ensuring rental debt does not risk them finding homes in the future.

“Secondly, we need a welfare system that provides renters with the security of knowing that they can afford their homes.”

The statement continues: “We urge the Chancellor (Rishi Sunak) to act now to avoid renters being scarred by debts they have no hope of clearing and a wave of people having to leave their homes in the weeks and months to come.”

On Sunday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that renters in England will be protected with an extension to the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions until March 31.

The ban was introduced around the start of the pandemic to protect private renters and will remain in place for all but the most serious cases.

Mr Jenrick said on Sunday: “We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic.”

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