Millions of UK households worried about paying rent over winter, survey finds

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Around 2.5 million households in the UK are worried about paying rent over winter, with 700,000 already in arrears and 350,000 at risk of eviction, research has revealed.


The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) conducted a survey which found that many households are building up “unmanageable amounts” of unpaid rent, with some facing eviction.

An estimated 1.3 million households in the private sector (30%), and 1.2 million households in the social sector (27%) are worried about paying their rent over the next three months.

About 700,000 renters are currently in arrears with their rent and 1.7 million (19%) are in arrears with household bills or council tax payments.

Approximately 80,000 households in the private sector and 125,000 households in the social sector have arrears of more than £1,000.

The JRF says the current total household arrears runs into the hundreds of millions, with £400m of arrears in England and Wales as a conservative estimate. As many as 350,000 renting households have had their landlord discuss eviction with them – which equates to 4% of all renters.

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Black, Asian and minority ethnic renters and those who have experienced a drop in income are being hit the hardest.

Families with children that rent privately are more likely to be worried than other households, with four in ten, approximately 600,000 households, concerned about paying their rent over winter.

The survey found that 61% of all renter households where someone is facing a drop in income in November and 62% of renter households where someone is unemployed are worried about paying rent.

To try and stay afloat, 41% of private renters and 34% of social renters who have seen a drop in income have used their savings to offset this, but one in four private renters (42%) and two thirds of social renters (65%) in the UK have savings of less than £500.

A total of 10,719 adults were surveyed, of which 2,989 were renters, between October 20 and 27.


The JRF has warned that without immediate targeted support, renters who have seen their incomes drop will be at risk of real hardship this winter and may lose their homes. It has urged the government to reinstate a watertight eviction ban to prevent a “surge of homelessness” this winter.

Helen Barnard, director at the JRF, said:

Millions of people are anxious about paying the rent over winter, having run down their limited savings, reduced their spending and borrowed from friends, family or the bank.

The worrying number of households already in arrears shows renters are running out of options.

Without action we could see a wave of evictions and a surge in homelessness over the winter.

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  • Show Comments
    1. The single most effective way to improve the lives of working class people would be to a) force private landlords to bring rents into line with social housing rents b) introduce ‘for life’ tenancies which allow children, pets and benefits. £100 of every council tax bill in the country goes straight into the pocket of a private landlord as working tenants don’t earn enough to pay extortionate rents. If you are serious about wanting change, you should drop every single issue cause and put everything you have behind breaking the property market which is currently being shored up against the latest economic crisis. Tip the balance in favour of the tenant and owning property becomes less attractive, house prices go down, property moguls lose a fortune, flood the market, prices go down more, empty houses get filled so less need to be built (is this a housing crisis or an affordability crisis?) It’s a house of cards. The whole system depends upon it. Then the other single issues will follow like magic. But best of all, the very first people to gain from it are the people who need it most. Of course, your inheritance will collapse in value. But houses are for living in, aren’t they? Surely? Yes, I am putting you on the spot…how far would you go to achieve a better world?

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