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Tenants with Covid rent debts see arrears increase

Average rent debts still owed by renters as a result of the pandemic have increased by 41% since May according to new research. 

A survey of over 2,000 private renters in England and Wales by research consultancy Dynata for the NRLA found that average COVID related rent arrears owed by affected tenants had increased to £1,270, up from £900 in May. 

Whilst the proportion of tenants who had built arrears since March last year that still needed to be paid off had almost halved to 3.7% (from 7% in May) this still amounts to over 430,000 private renters. 

The survey also found that over half (57%) of those with outstanding COVID related rent arrears were not in receipt of Universal Credit, making them ineligible for Discretionary Housing Payments. 

More broadly, almost 59% of private renters in receipt of Universal Credit said that the decision to cut payments by £20 a week would make it more difficult for them to cover the cost of their rents. 

The UK Government has made funding available for councils in England to help vulnerable renters affected by the pandemic. The NRLA is calling on local authorities to ensure this is focused on those unable to access emergency housing benefit support.

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