Half a million Brits are reportedly behind on rent
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Boris Johnson has confirmed that the eviction ban is "under review” after campaigners warned that half a million Brits have fallen behind on rent payments.
Mr Johnson made the commitment to the review after Keir Starmer demanded the government to extend the eviction ban "which is due to run out in just five days".
Evictions are due to start again next Monday after being temporarily suspended in the wake of the pandemic in March.
They began again in September but a ''Christmas Truce' between December 11 and January 11 offered breathing space to some struggling renters.
The announcement came as campaigners warned that without action hundreds of thousands of people could face evictions from later this month.
Around one in 10 private renters are behind with their payments, according to Citizens Advice.
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The charity estimates the 11% could equate to around half a million renters being in arrears, if its findings were projected across the UK.
On average, people who have fallen behind on rent now owe £730, which could potentially mean around £360 million is owed in total, Citizens Advice said.
More than half (58%) of those who were behind on rent had no rent arrears in February 2020, the survey of more than 1,300 private renters in November across the UK found.
Among people who were already struggling with rent before the coronavirus pandemic hit, 40% said their arrears had got worse.
Citizens Advice said that in December, it helped someone every two minutes typically with an issue to do with their privately rented housing.
Alistair Cromwell, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Half a million private renters remain behind on their rent, with the majority falling behind during the pandemic restrictions.
“Unlike people who own their homes, private tenants have had no structured way to defer payments but instead have had to try to keep up with their rent and bills as best they can in a time of great uncertainty and hardship.
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“Even though many landlords are trying their best to support their tenants, thousands of renters could face eviction in the coming months without further help.”
The Housing Law Practitioners Association said it has been absolutely clear that nobody should be losing their home at the current time and no one should be out on the streets.
‘The government must now act to extend the moratorium on evictions beyond 11 January, put the “everyone in” policy on a formal footing so that councils are obliged to accommodate everyone at risk of rough sleeping including those with no recourse to public funds, and put in place meaningful protections for renters,’ the association added.