Rent arrears is fastest growing UK debt problem

Published on Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:48
Written by Daniel Mason

National debt advice charity the Money Advice Trust today reports that rent arrears are now the fastest growing debt problem in the UK.

The number of calls to the charity's National Debtline service from people with rent arrears has risen significantly since the economic crisis first hit in 2007. From January to October this year, the free advice helpline received nearly 20,000 calls for help from people with rent arrears, compared with just 8,000 over the same period in 2007 – an increase of 146 per cent. Calls from people with rent arrears have increased 37 per cent over the last two years, and 13 per cent in the last 12 months – more than any other debt type.

Additionally, figures suggest renters have faced a growing number of broader debt problems, with renters now accounting for 57 per cent of total calls to National Debtline, compared to 43 per cent in 2010.

Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust said: "The long-term trend for rising rent prices 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.

"The risks of falling behind on rent payments are stark and it is vital anyone concerned about their ability to pay the rent seeks free, impartial advice as soon as possible. Advice is available online through My Money Steps, over the phone at National Debtline, or face to face at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you are a struggling buy-to-let landlord you can also get free, impartial advice from Business Debtline."

Labour Party response:

Emma Reynolds MP, Labour's Shadow Housing Minister, responding to the Money Advice Trust finding that rent arrears are now the fastest growing debt, said:

"Rent is using up more and more of people's income, contributing to the cost of living crisis under David Cameron.

"The housing market isn't working because there simply aren't enough homes around for young people and families that want to buy but are forced to rent.

"Rather than take the action needed to tackle this crisis this out of touch Tory-led Government is presiding over the lowest levels of housebuilding in peacetime since the 1920s.

"Ed Miliband has committed to tackling this crisis and a Labour government will build at least 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament."

Sources: Money Advice Trust, Labour Party

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