Millions of tenants are anxious about paying rent over the winter and 350,000 have already had discussions with their landlords about eviction, new research by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has found.

It has warned that without immediate targeted support, both private and social renters who’ve seen their incomes drop, will be at risk of real hardship and could lose their homes.

Some 2.5 million households are worried about paying rent in the next three months (1.3 million in the private sector), it says, with 700,000 already in arrears.

The social change group’s survey of nearly 3,000 tenants reveals that large numbers who have reduced spending to offset shrinking incomes are cutting back on essentials such as food (70%), heating and electricity (49%), and for renters with children, food for children and nappies (39%).

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Legally binding

It says despite Government guidance not to employ the use of bailiffs before 11th January in England, this protection might not be legally binding or be properly understood by households vulnerable to eviction, who could feel they have no option but to leave their home if they get an eviction notice.

It’s calling for a watertight ban on evictions, together with targeted support for rent arrears to prevent a surge of evictions in the spring.

JRF also recommends a targeted grant programme designed to address rent arrears as director Helen Barnard says hard-pushed renters are running out of options.

“Without action which seeks to address growing arrears, any ban on eviction or enforcement only kicks the can down the road, with renters vulnerable to losing their homes again as restrictions are lifted,” says Barnard (pictured).

“A targeted package of support to address high rent arrears will give renters and landlords much needed breathing space as we continue to weather the storm.”

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