2.6 million tenants already missed, or expect to miss, a rent payment
Some 2.6 million private renters have missed a rent payment already or expect to do so, because of coronavirus, said Citizens Advice.
The charity warned this leaves them at risk of eviction – and possible homelessness – once the government’s pause on possession action ends on 25 June.
It also revealed that over 13 million people have either been unable to pay, or expect to be unable to pay, a bill because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Help needed for tenants
For tenants in the private rented sector, the charity is calling on the government to fast-track the abolition of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, temporarily make the mandatory ‘rent arrears’ grounds for eviction discretionary, and take measures to ensure private renters are given the opportunity to make up any payments they miss as a result of coronavirus.
Struggling with bills
Citizens Advice also found that 7.2 million people have missed a council tax payment already or expect to do so owing to coronavirus.
And 7.4 million people have already missed or expect to miss a mobile phone or broadband payment. While telecoms companies have put in place measures to support customers with missed bills during lockdown, being in arrears after this time could lead to disconnection. This is at a time when people are relying on their phones and internet to work, learn and stay in touch with loved ones.
Lucretia Thomas, a project adviser at Citizens Advice, said: “This pandemic has had a devastating effect on households. Many families that we see are in insecure employment and have lost income during the lockdown.
“While rent still has to be paid, we’re seeing landlords insisting that arrears are cleared quickly and threatening tenants with eviction. People are concerned about how they will reduce their arrears to prevent eviction after this crisis has passed.
“Renters should be protected from harassment by their landlords or agents, and have a roof over their heads during this challenging time and beyond.”