Close to half a million people have fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments because of the coronavirus crisis.
Out of an estimated 750,000 people in housing payment arrears, around 450,000 are in debt as a direct result of the pandemic, according to new research from the Resolution Foundation.
The warnings were particularly stark for renters, with more than a fifth (22%) having gone into the pandemic without any savings. Renters are also more likely to have lost income as a result of the coronavirus and associated restrictions.
To offer some protection to renters, a ban on bailiff evictions has been extended in England until the end of March.
Originally introduced in March 2020, the ban has been extended several times. The latest ban is due to end on 31 March 2021.
The rule change means that landlords cannot serve eviction notices and bailiffs cannot carry out repossessions, except in extreme circumstances.
Landlords that want to evict tenants are currently required to give at least a six-month notice period, except in very serious cases.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, including introducing a six-month notice period and financial support to help those struggling to pay their rent.
“By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.”
But Ben Beadle from the National Residential Landlords Association warned that 800,000 private renters have built up arrears in the last year, and that the extension was storing up future problems.
He said: “It will lead eventually to [tenants] having to leave their home and face serious damage to their credit scores.
“The Government needs to get a grip and do something about the debt crisis renters and landlords are now facing.”
What is a bailiff eviction
Bailiff evictions can be carried out by county court bailiffs or high court enforcement officers. They will confirm a date and time in a notice of eviction, but this may be delayed if there is a lockdown in your area.
If you are still at the property on the day of the eviction the bailiffs will ask you to leave.
If you will become homeless after an eviction, you should ask your local council for help as soon as possible.
What should I do if I can’t pay my rent
If you can’t pay rent you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible. They may be able to defer your payment or allow you to pay a smaller amount – but they don’t need to do this.
If you are a social renter, you should speak to your housing association or local council. If you have no luck with your landlord or your local authority, you could try contacting a housing advice charity such as Shelter.
If you can’t afford to pay your rent because you have high levels of personal debt, you may benefit from using a personal insolvency solution such as an IVA. For more information, speak to a member of the Umbrella Insolvency team. Call: 0800 611 8888.