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5 January, 2021 Open access

Almost half a million private renters are behind on their rent, risking an ‘avalanche’ of evictions if bailiff enforcement ban comes to an end

Citizens Advice calls for continued ban on possession enforcement in areas subject to higher coronavirus restrictions and targeted support to help people escape the trap of rent arrears

Almost half a million private renters are behind on their rent, risking an ‘avalanche’ of evictions if the bailiff enforcement ban comes to an end next week, Citizens Advice has warned.

NB - as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most evictions are effectively on hold in England and Wales until 11 January 2021, while in Scotland a temporary ban on the enforcement of eviction orders currently runs until 22 January 2021.

In New year, same arrears: How the pandemic is leaving private renters with unmanageable debt, Citizens Advice analyses the results of a survey of more than 6,000 people undertaken in late 2020 and data from its Tenants Voice panel which is made up of 700 private renters from across England. It reveals that 11 per cent of private renters have reported being behind in their rent (equivalent to 495,000 of an estimated 4.5 million private renters in the UK).

Citizens Advice also highlights findings about the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on rent arrears in the private rented sector, including that -

In relation to the impact of rent arrears on increasing the risk of losing a tenancy, Citizens Advice highlights that a quarter of people surveyed had already been threatened with eviction or termination of their rental contract, or had been handed an eviction notice, despite the current temporary ban on bailiffs enforcing evictions.

Warning that, without further help, an ‘avalanche of evictions’ could take place in the spring, Citizens Advice makes two key calls on the government to take action by -

Acting Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Alistair Cromwell said today -

‘As coronavirus restrictions once again tighten for everyone, the government must not forget the struggles of private renters. They currently face the prospect of losing their home once the eviction ban ends next week and the debt they have built up is likely to cast a long shadow over their future.

Half a million private renters remain behind on their rent, with the majority falling behind during the pandemic restrictions. Unlike people who own their homes, private tenants have had no structured way to defer payments but instead have had to try to keep up with their rent and bills as best they can in a time of great uncertainty and hardship.

Even though many landlords are trying their best to support their tenants, thousands of renters could face eviction in the coming months without further help. The government must act decisively to prevent evictions in areas subject to the highest coronavirus restrictions. And they should provide targeted support to help people escape the trap of rent arrears in the New Year.’

For more information, see Half a million renters in arrears as evictions set to resume from the Citizens Advice website.