The Citizens Advice charity claims that new figures suggest concern is building amongst renters about the possibility of losing their home.
It says the number of people seeking help from the charity about issues to do with private rented properties increased by 43 per cent between summer 2020 – covering June to August this year – and the same period of 2019.
Over the same period, the number of visits to its webpage on Dealing with Rent Arrears more than doubled year on year, while earlier research from the charity suggested over a million people had fallen behind on their rent due to Covid-19.
The charity’s advice to renters who have had a possession order and are facing possible eviction is that they may be given 14 days notice from September 20 – that’s yesterday – that bailiffs will carry out an eviction.
“You should seek urgent advice – from Citizens Advice or another housing charity – about whether there’s any way to prevent or delay the eviction, or about finding alternative accommodation. The advice applies to tenants in private rented accommodation and does not include lodgers” says the charity.
Even if people are able to follow this advice, Citizens Advice says it fears many renters will struggle with arrears built up during the pandemic.
The charity, in a coalition that includes the landlord body the National Residential Landlords Association and housing charities, is calling for direct financial support for people behind on their rent because of Covid-19 – either through grants or government-backed interest-free loans.
Citizens Advice is also calling for reforms that give judges more discretion to allow tenants to stay in their homes.
“Neither renters nor landlords can afford to be saddled with long-term arrears as a result of coronavirus. The government must urgently consider direct financial support to help renters clear their debts and stay in their homes, and so make good its promise that no renter will be evicted because of coronavirus” says Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.
This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.