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Tenants flood Citizens Advice website for rent arrears help

Written by: Samantha Partington
Thousands of tenants are searching for help to deal with rent arrears on the Citizen’s advice website, the charity has revealed.

Between April and June Citizens Advice recorded almost 33,000 page views on its website page ‘dealing with rent arrears’, soaring by 330% on the same period last year. Website views on its ‘Get help with renting costs’ rose by 62% to 40,998.

The charity believes many private renters will need financial support to pay back their rent arrears or risk losing their homes.

Protections against evictions, put in place by the government at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, will end in August, unlike financial support for mortgage borrowers who can take out payment holidays until the end of October.

Previous research by Citizens Advice revealed that 36% of private sector renters have seen their income fall by 20% or more – higher than the average of 26% for all tenure types.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The dramatic jump in the need for advice on rent arrears should be a warning sign for the government that many people are deeply worried about the possibility of losing their home.

“Renters have been particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of Covid-19, yet protections for them run out sooner than many of the other measures to help people struggling, including those for mortgage payers.

“Many renters won’t be in a position to repay arrears built up due to coronavirus. Without help, they risk losing the roof over their head through no fault of their own.”

Banks are already bracing themselves for the risk that rental voids could be on the horizon when the government withdraws its job retention scheme at the end of October. Research carried out by BVA BDRC found that 1.7 million renters expected to lose their jobs this year because of coronavirus.

Lenders are carrying out additional checks into landlords’ personal income and employment status to check that they have the means to cover rental voids should their tenants be unable to pay.

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