Citizens Advice is warning of a huge surge in the number of private renters turning to the charity for urgent advice on rent arrears, just weeks before Government protection against evictions is due to end.
The charity believes that many renters will need financial support to pay back these debts or risk losing their homes and potentially adding to an already rising number of households who are registering with local councils as being homeless.
Citizens Advice has reported a 332% surge in website views from private renters looking for information and advice about dealing with rent arrears, while visits from renters seeking help with rental costs has also increased by 62%.
Worryingly, the charity reports a 139% rise in people accessing its website who say they “have nowhere to stay tonight” and the number of private renters checking to see if they are entitled to homeless support has risen by 32%.
The Government has confirmed that a temporary ban on evictions, introduced during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, will end on 23 August and landlords will once again be able to apply to courts for eviction orders.
Citizens Advice is calling for extra funding to be made available to support people to pay back arrears resulting from Coronavirus, mirroring a similar call from The National Residential Landlords Association.
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.”
Amy Hughes, Housing Expert at Citizens Advice, added: “The restarting of eviction proceedings will be very worrying for those tenants still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on their finances.
“There may be a number of ways an eviction notice can be challenged, and anybody served such a notice should get advice about whether it is valid and whether they may be able to stop or delay their eviction.
“Fortunately there are a range of organisations which can help, including Citizens Advice, but also other housing and debt charities.”