Alarming reports from a national debt advice charity indicate that rent arrears are the quickest rising debt problem within the UK.
The Money Advice Trust has said that calls to its National Debtline number from people experiencing rent arrears rose substantially during the last year. In fact, numbers have been slowly rising since the economic crisis took hold during 2007.
Rent Arrears the Fastest Growing Debt Problem
From January to October this year, calls to the National Debtline totalled 18,963, in comparison to 7,722 during the same period in 2007. This signifies an incredible increase of 146%. In the last two years, telephone calls to the number from people affected by rent arrears have gone up by 37%.
During the past 12 months, calls have increased by a further 13%.
The report also suggests that renters have toiled in the face of more widespread debt problems. 57% of calls to the National Debtline in the previous year were from renters, compared to 43% in 2010.
Danger of crisis
Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, Joanna Elson, is concerned that rent arrears are spiralling out of control and that we could be heading towards a dangerous period. Elson 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.”
Elson believes: “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 living cost squeeze has hit many families very hard since 2007.”
She says that the Money Advice Trust, “hear from thousands of people every month about the difficult decisions they have to make just to hold their family finances together.”
Describing the risk of falling into rent arrears as “stark,” Elson says that “it is vital anyone concerned about their ability to pay the rent seeks free, impartial advice as soon as possible.”
She went on to say: “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.”