Renters struggling with rising energy bills should be protected from higher rents with a ‘rent freeze’, according to campaign group Generation Rent.
The campaign group also called for a pause on evictions to stop tenants facing homelessness.
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “Although interest rates are rising, home owners are able to minimise costs by remortgaging. Renters don’t have the same option: if your landlord thinks they can get a higher rent from a new tenant, there’s not much you can do. If you try to negotiate, your landlord can simply serve a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice.
“With renters so vulnerable to rent hikes and incomes stagnant, this causes impossible choices between paying rent and putting food on the table. Without a suspension of evictions and a rent freeze, the cost of living crisis will lead to spiralling rent arrears and homelessness for thousands of families.”
Generation Rent argued that tenants are being hit harder by the cost of living crisis than homeowners and landlords.
Therefore it called on the government to:
- Ban increases in rent for the duration of the cost of living crisis
- Suspend the use of Section 21 evictions, where the landlord does not need a reason to evict, and Section 8 Ground 8 evictions, where tenants in more than 2 months’ of rent arrears cannot challenge an eviction
- Unfreeze Local Housing Allowance so benefit claimants can pay the rent – rates are frozen at 2019-20 levels
- Restore Discretionary Housing Payment funding to 2020-21 levels, when £180m was available for renters struggling with housing costs
- Reinstate the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift
- Ban landlords from demanding multiple months’ rent up front – a tactic used to deny benefit claimants a home
- Increase funds to clear tenants’ rent arrears from the £65m provided in October 2021
Cost of living crisis
The Office for National Statistics revealed that 59% of renters were finding it difficult to pay energy bills in March, compared with 43% of mortgaged home owners.
Nearly half of renters responding to the ONS’s Opinion and Lifestyle Survey (47%) are already spending less on food and essentials, compared with a third of mortgaged home owners (31%) and one in four outright owners (24%).
A third of renters (34%) reported that their rent had increased in the past six months, compared with 19% of mortgaged home owners saying that repayments had increased. Six percent of renters are in arrears, compared with a negligible number of home owners.
Generation Rent said tenants are in a precarious position, with just 38% able to pay an unexpected bill of £850, compared with 61% of mortgaged home owners.