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Citizens Advice helping one private renter every minute typically

The charity said an eviction ban is ‘papering over the cracks’.

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Citizens Advice says the forthcoming Renters’ Reform Bill is an opportunity for a fairer private rented sector (Tim Goode/PA)

Citizens Advice says the forthcoming Renters’ Reform Bill is an opportunity for a fairer private rented sector (Tim Goode/PA)

Citizens Advice says the forthcoming Renters’ Reform Bill is an opportunity for a fairer private rented sector (Tim Goode/PA)

Citizens Advice says it is helping one person every minute typically during office hours with problems relating to renting from a private landlord.

The charity’s figures cover England and Wales.

In the first two months of this year, it recorded a 40% increase in people seeking one-to-one advice on issues relating to the private rented sector compared with the same period in 2020.

A Government ban on most eviction proceedings has been in place for a year.

But Citizens Advice said private renters are still concerned by the threat of eviction.

The Government’s eviction ban helped private tenants feel more secure during the pandemic. But it’s been a case of papering over the cracksAlistair Cromwell, Citizens Advice

And it said two-thirds of tenants in a survey had experienced problems with maintenance or disrepair in the previous three months.

Citizens Advice said the forthcoming Renters’ Reform Bill is an opportunity for a fairer private rented sector.

The charity wants to see a new national housing body and register to set consistent standards, give tenants greater protection, and help responsible landlords.

Alistair Cromwell, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The Government’s eviction ban helped private tenants feel more secure during the pandemic. But it’s been a case of papering over the cracks.”

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) estimates that 840,000 private tenants across England and Wales have built rent arrears since lockdown measures started.

It said these debts are increasing to the point where there is no hope of many being able to afford to pay them back.

It said most landlords have been working with struggling tenants to help keep them in their homes as far as possible, but 60% have lost rental income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Of these, 39% said the losses were continuing to increase.

The NRLA said the situation for landlords is being made worse by the strains that the courts are now under in hearing the relatively few cases that are being allowed to go ahead.

Ministers need to ensure the tenants have the financial means to pay off rent debts built as a result of the pandemicBen Beadle, National Residential Landlords Association

It said much better use of technology should be made in courts to ensure that legitimate repossession cases can be heard more swiftly.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “Whilst many landlords and tenants have worked well in responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic, we are now at a crunch point.

“As the country follows the road map out of lockdown, so too emergency measures in the rental market will need to be eased.

“Ministers need to ensure the tenants have the financial means to pay off rent debts built as a result of the pandemic.

“Without this they will have to accept the inevitable consequence of rising homelessness and damaged credit scores.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We’ve put households at the heart of our decision-making throughout the pandemic, with an unprecedented £352 billion package keeping millions in work and temporarily bolstering the welfare safety net by more than £1,000 a year for families most in need.

“Robust protections remain – with longer notice periods of six months and the banning of bailiff enforcement of evictions for all but the most serious cases until May 31 – councils can also provide support through the £180 million Discretionary Housing Scheme.”

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