Those who rent from a private landlord, local authority or housing association will have now paid their first instalment of rent since the government-imposed lockdown. 48 percent of UK renters are worried about the impact Covid-19 could have on their living situation, according to new insight from Opinium.
The majority (58 percent) of renters who were working before the outbreak said they have had their employment impacted in some way, and this has provoked further issues. 43 percent of renters whose work has been impacted have struggled to pay rent, bills or other essentials such as food, and 25 percent have either had to voluntarily leave their home, move in with friends or parents, or request for their tenancy to end earlier than planned to avoid paying rent.
In addition, 73 percent of landlords are worried their tenants will not be able to pay all or part of the rent – and 70 percent are concerned that their tenants will vacate their home, leaving landlords with an empty property.
David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark said: “It’s worrying to see that the vast majority of renters and landlords are concerned about rent payments. Unfortunately, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more people may see changes in their income which could leave them stressed about affording rent whilst providing for themselves and their families.”
Renters relying on savings to get by
12 percent of all renters and 24 percent of renters whose employment has been impacted by the outbreak have had to dip into savings to pay for day-to-day life. Others have been forced to choose between paying rent or buying food.
Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 has added financial pressure to UK renters, and 17 percent have sought financial help since the outbreak. This rises to 31 percent among those whose employment has been impacted, with 13 percent applying for Universal Credit to help with rent payments and 11 percent borrowing from friends and family.
Renters want more support – but currently lack awareness about new housing policies
Renters want new policies to support their situation. 82 percent don’t want energy cut offs if they can’t pay their bill, 80 percent want freezing rental increases, 76 percent want advanced Universal Credit payments and 74 percent want rents frozen.
David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark comments: “There is lots of Government support available that should allow tenants to continue to pay their rent and landlords to have an income if rent payments do stop. Clearly not enough is being done to explain and highlight these policies, but we would urge everyone to look into these and understand what help they may be eligible for. Both renters and landlords should take full advantage of the Government schemes available during this difficult period.”
Its identified that many renters do not know about the current policies that are available to support them. 65 percent are aware the government has made £500 million available to fund households with financial hardship, 61 percent admit they have no knowledge about what that means or what it entails. And 43 percent are completely unaware that the government will increase the housing element of Universal Credit to cover the cheapest 30 percent of rents in an area. Even more concerning is that 19 percent of renters are completely unaware that the government has banned new eviction proceedings against tenants for the next three months.
James Endersby, CEO at Opinium, adds: “Our research shows that renters are finding it particularly tough. Many have found their employment situation has changed, but their rental payments still remain, and this is already becoming a struggle for some. A substantial number of renters have had to use savings or financial help to get by, and if we are in this predicament for the long term then their problems will only get worse.
“It’s clear that renters do not have the full perspective of their rights and entitlements that are crucial in guiding them through the outbreak, but these measures could make all the difference.”
Image credit: Nick Biring