The number of people encountering problems with rent arrears – and the proportion of all financial difficulties these people represent – have more than doubled since 2007, just before the recession began.
According to the latest figures from the Money Advice Trust, in 2007 their National Debtline helpline handled 9,166 enquiries about rent arrears, 6.1% of all calls received.
In 2013, 21,943 calls were handled, equivalent to 12.5% of enquiries, one in eight calls to the National Debtline.
Of course nobody wants to see families made homeless, but for private landlords there is a real risk to incomes from properties inhabited by people who are unable to pay.
Unsurprisingly, the Money Advice Trust says those on low incomes are most at risk of developing finance problems due to the rate of inflation.
“Price variations in certain elements of the CPI inflation basket are likely to have a disproportionate impact on lower-income households,” the organisation reports.
“We can see that price rises in basics like food, rent and energy are particularly likely to impact low-income households.”
Moreover, the report gives the example of one couple whose attempts to deal with their financial difficulties on their own may have kept them hidden from their landlord and utility providers for longer than would otherwise have been the case.
Despite cutting back on luxuries over the past five years, poor wage growth meant the young couple were unable to continue servicing all of their outgoings.
They attempted to cope with this by spreading their arrears across all of their bills – including utility bills and rental arrears – until they fell three months behind on utilities and were referred to the National Debtline.
While they are now back on track, they must make further cuts in response to inflation, and are still managing their spending carefully – an indication of how even dual-income households have been hit by the economic turbulence.