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Call for ban on rent increases

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Tenants struggling with rising living costs should be protected from higher rents, a campaign group says.

Generation Rent is calling on the government to ban rent increases as energy bills soar, and it’s also urging for evictions to be paused to prevent tenants facing homelessness.

The campaign group said renters are in a “precarious position” with just 38% able to pay an unexpected bill of £850, compared to 61% of mortgaged homeowners.

The call comes as data from the Office for National Statistics revealed a quarter of people said it was difficult or very difficult to pay their usual household bills in March.

As part of its report, the ONS revealed a greater percentage of renters (37%) than mortgagors (23%) struggled to pay household bills compared with a year ago. This is because property renters are more concentrated in the lower income bands, they were more exposed to rent rises and because housing is one of the least income-elastic category of spending.

While homeowners could be hit by rising rates, “renters have it worse” according to Generation Rent as 6% are already in arrears.

The group added that renters’ prospects of buying their own home are “dim” as just 30% believe they will be able to save money in the next 12 months, compared with 44% of mortgaged home owners. And renters are more likely to be borrowing more money or using more credit than a year ago – 26% compared with 19% of mortgaged homeowners.

With renters most exposed to the cost-of-living crisis, Generation Rent is calling on the government to:

  1. Ban increases in rent for the duration of the cost-of-living crisis
  2. Suspend the use of Section 21 evictions, where the landlord does not need a reason to evict, and Section 8 Ground 8 evictions, where tenants in more than two months’ of rent arrears cannot challenge an eviction
  3. Unfreeze Local Housing Allowance so benefit claimants can pay the rent – rates are frozen at 2019/20 levels
  4. Restore discretionary housing payment funding to 2020/21 levels, when £180m was available for renters struggling with housing costs
  5. Reinstate the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift
  6. Ban landlords from demanding multiple months’ rent up front – a tactic used to deny benefit claimants a home
  7. Increase funds to clear tenants’ rent arrears from the £65m provided in October 2021.

‘Impossible choices’

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “Although interest rates are rising, homeowners are able to minimise costs by remortgaging. Renters don’t have the same option: if your landlord thinks they can get higher rent from a new tenant, there’s not much you can do. If you try to negotiate, your landlord can simply serve a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice.

“With renters so vulnerable to rent hikes and incomes stagnant, this causes impossible choices between paying rent and putting food on the table. Without a suspension of evictions and a rent freeze, the cost-of-living crisis will lead to spiralling rent arrears and homelessness for thousands of families.”

Just last month, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan called for a private rent freeze in the capital for a two-year period to help tenants save £3,000 amid the cost-of-living crisis.

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