There has been a 150% increase in rent arrears in the UK since 2007 and a 13% increase in the last 12 months alone, according to data from the national debt advice charity the Money Advice Trust.
It says that rent arrears are now the fastest growing debt problem in the UK and the number of calls to the charity’s National Debtline service from people with rent arrears has risen significantly since the economic crisis first hit in 2007.
From January to October this year, the free advice helpline received nearly 20,000 calls for help from people with rent arrears, compared with just 8,000 over the same period in 2007, and an increase of 146%.
Calls from people with rent arrears have increased 37% over the last two years and 13% in the last 12 months. Additionally, figures suggest renters have faced a growing number of broader debt problems, with renters now accounting for 57% of total calls to National Debtline, compared to 43% in 2010.
‘The long term trend for rising rent prices is clear and its impact on the debt landscape is significant. Rent arrears are now the fastest growing debt problem we help people with at National Debtline, and we are in danger of falling into a rent debt crisis,’ said Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust.
‘Housing costs are the most important household bill of all, and to see such increasing numbers of people falling behind on rent payments is indicative of how the cost of living squeeze has hit many families very hard since 2007. We hear from thousands of people every month about the difficult decisions they have to make just to hold their family finances together,’ she explained.
‘The risks of falling behind on rent payments are stark and it is vital anyone concerned about their ability to pay the rent seeks free, impartial advice as soon as possible. Advice is available online through My Money Steps, over the phone at National Debtline, or face to face at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you are a struggling buy to let landlord you can also get free, impartial advice from Business Debtline,’ she added.
Emma Reynolds, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, said that the housing market isn’t working because there aren’t enough homes around for young people and families that want to buy but are forced to rent.