UKALA chairman says there will be widespread evictions without more support for tenants, and suggests government should consider offering interest-free loans
Forty per cent of adults paying rent or mortgages say they are finding the payments very or somewhat difficult to afford, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is an increase from 30% during a similar period last autumn. Almost half (47%) said their payments had increased in the past six months compared with 33% a year ago.
This ties in with research from property website, Rightmove, showing that rents have reached a record high with monthly bills outside London averaging £1,278. Average London rents have also risen to a record of £2,627 a month, up 12% on a year earlier.
Compounding the situation, the Consumer Prices Index rose by 6.7% in the 12 months to August 2023, driven by high energy and food prices.
In response, the Big Issue has launched an ‘End Housing Insecurity Now’ campaign and says that “renters are being driven into debt and homelessness, just to afford the basics.”
Dan Wilson Craw, Deputy Chief Executive, Generation Rent agreed: “Rising rents are making life misery for renters throughout the country. High rents are forcing people to move further away from workplaces and family or compromising on space and quality. They’re also more vulnerable to sharp practices and scams.
“Even where landlords haven’t raised the rent, tenants whose home no longer meets their needs, or their landlord is ignoring complaints, find themselves stuck.”
“We need more housebuilding, particularly social homes, in places where people want to live, and measures to prevent unaffordable rent rises.”
To resolve the situation, Wilson Craw said the government needs to start debating the Renters (Reform) Bill, which will “stop landlords from evicting tenants just to raise the rent.”
He added: “We also need more housebuilding, particularly social homes, in places where people want to live, and measures to prevent unaffordable rent rises.”
Jonathan Rolande, Founder of the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) said that increased rents are, in part, because landlords are passing increases in mortgage payments and maintenance costs onto tenants. He also warned that the rental supply had dwindled as many have left the sector.
According to the UK Association of Letting Agents’ (UKALA’s) spring survey of its members, more than 50% do not intend to increase their portfolios, and 40% are planning to decrease their portfolios.
Rolande said: “They are selling, they think, at the top of the market or due to increased legislation and costs. Meanwhile, demand has increased due to population growth as well as many now unable or unwilling to buy while lending rates are high. This means landlords can push up rents with tenants having to accept.”
In terms of a solution, he said: “Rises will slow as we reach peak affordability, but rents will not fall anytime soon. Until more homes are built to meet and even exceed demand, the situation looks set to continue.”
Tim Clark, Chairman, UKALA was equally downbeat. He said: “Without more support for tenants, there will be widespread evictions, leaving many tenants in impossible positions.
“Currently, potential evictions are merely being postponed, but tangible help for tenants could help avoid them and the distress they bring. The government urgently needs to organise support for tenants to avoid evictions, perhaps by giving interest-free loans.”
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