Rent arrears in the UK have increased by 150 per cent since 2007, new data from Money Advice Trust reveals. According to the national debt advice charity, there has been a 13 per cent rise in rent arrears during the last 12 months alone.
Money Advice Trust states that the number of calls it receives from people with rent arrears problems has significantly increased since the onset of the economic crisis in 2007, suggesting that rent arrears is now the UK’s fastest-growing major debt problem.
Through the first three quarters of 2018, the charity’s free debt advice helpline helped nearly 20,000 people with rent arrears problems, a 146 per cent increase over the 8,000 rent arrears calls it received six years earlier in 2007.
The charity’s figures suggest today’s renters are facing a rising tide of larger overall debt problems, which is indicated by the 14 per cent increase in the number of UK renters since 2010. Increased demand has also led to rising rents, only exacerbating the problem.
According to Joanna Elson, chief executive at Money Advice Trust, “The long term trend for rising rent problems 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.”
“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 continued.
Elson has seen the extent to which falling behind on rent can damage a person’s finances even further, so she deplores anyone struggling to make their rent payments to call the National Debtline or access My Money Steps online as soon as possible for free financial advice. She also reached out to landlords, saying, “If you are a struggling buy to let landlord you can also get free, impartial advice from Business Debtline.”
Emma Reynolds, Labour leader and Shadow Housing Minister, blamed the entire problem on a lack of housing inventory, stating that the failed housing market is due to a lack of homes for families and young people that would like to buy but are being forced to rent.