The number of private renters in arrears in England has more than doubled during the pandemic, according to new government data.

The latest Household Resilience Study shows that in April-May, 7% of private renters were in arrears, up from 3% in 2019/20, amounting to more than 780,000 renters. Another 9% expect to fall behind with their rents over the next 12 months, despite private rents having fallen in real terms.

Rising bills

With more than a quarter (27%) of private renters having reported difficulties in meeting their heating costs in the same period, the National Residential Landlords Association has warned that with rising bills now adding to their burden, many renters will struggle to pay off Covid-related rent debts.

Chief executive Ben Beadle says that without a targeted package of support, many tenants run the risk of losing their homes needlessly. “The Chancellor needs to address this crisis,” he adds. “His continued failure to act signals to the private rented sector that the government simply does not care about the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has urged Housing Secretary Michael Gove to make ambitious investment in social housing a key part of his strategy to fix the housing crisis after it found that 956,000 families in England are paying rents they can’t afford in the private rented sector. 

Adverse effects

Both findings come as a Shelter poll reveals the pandemic’s adverse affect on private renters’ mental health: 39% say their housing problems or worries have left them feeling stressed and anxious, 22% say these made them physically sick and 21% report that the problems have negatively affected their performance at work. The charity’s YouGov poll finds the most common problems plaguing renters’ mental and physical health include damp and mould – which affects 26% of all renters – being unable to heat their home (26%), constantly struggling to pay rent (21%) and fear of eviction (19%). 


  1. How do LL afford to be lenders of last resort for their feckless rent defaulting tenants!!!!??

    Do these LL with all these rent arrears have lots of spare liquid cash assets.

    I don’t and CAN’T afford rent defaulting tenants.

    So how do LL service mortgage payments without rent!!??

    MSM seems to disregard rent defaulting as something that LL have to cope with and it is perfectly acceptable.

    How do LL cope!!??

    Do they have magic money trees!!??

    Why should tenants be allowed by the law to remain in a rental property when NOT paying for it!?

    Why should a LL be expected to effectively pay the tenant’s rent for them!

    How are they supposed to do that!?

    Why are tenants allowed by law to remain not paying rent until eventually evicted!?

    Is there a presumption that LL have to pay if the tenant can’t or WON’T.

    Where does that presumption come from?

    Feckless rent defaulting tenants cost LL about £9 billion per year.

    Why is it considered acceptable by society that LL can be ripped off by feckless tenants for such a huge amount!?

    Why does the law facilitate this feckless rent defaulting!?

    Why CAN’T LL get rid of feckless rent defaulting tenants after 45 days on the 45th day of rent defaulting!?

    Why does the law allow such such long periods of rent defaulting before eviction eventually occurs!?

    No wonder that I’m selling up no longer wishing to be a potential victim of a feckless rent defaulting tenant……………………..AGAIN!!

  2. I could not agree with you more. Do you think they can go to the shops and ask for free food, or free gas or electricity. No bloody fear! Sorry, my language is not of this low calibre normally. It makes my blood boil. Enough. Where the hell is the NRLA as I have said so many times before, tucked comfortably in bed with the government. That is one of the many reasons I will never enroll with them before, especially after they gave me the wrong advice that could have left a tenant living rent free forever in my rented house. And to add insult to injury they are paid for their actions. Beryl


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