17:02 PM, 14th March 2012, About 12 years ago
Rent arrears and debt problems are mounting up for thousands of tenants – with the number calling for help soaring by 55% last year.
Debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) says renters have suffered disproportionately from the country’s economic woes.
A combination of rising living costs, increasing joblessness and rents continuing to surge upwards has left many renters struggling with debt.
Around 10,250 tenants with rent arrears contacted CCCS for help in 2011 – an increase of 30% in the 36 months from the start of the downturn.
Private tenants owed £924 in arrears to buy to let landlords compared to £705 for social housing tenants and £622 for local authority renters.
CCCS also disclosed many tenants waited a year to ask for help, which only made their debt problems worse.
Consumer Affairs Minister Norman Lamb said: “The report shows that unmanageable debt is rising in all parts of society.
“It reminds us how vitally important it is to understand the needs of those who seek help, so that we can give them the right kind of help
“We want people to be better informed and able to make good financial choices, taking back control of their money.”
The figures also show the number of renters with debt problems is disproportionate to the number of rental properties.
The latest housing report for England and Wales from the Office of National Statistics calculated that private homeowners occupied around two thirds of properties, while buy to let renters added up to 16% of the sector while social housing tenants numbered 17%.
Unemployment was the key debt problem driver, with 48% of callers citing lack of work or reduced income from employment as the main cause of their financial difficulties.
Calls for debt advice from the over 60s was also up in the past three years – signalling a shifting age profile of debtors.
CCCS forecasts this is the start of a trend, reckoning that in two years almost half of callers will be aged over 45.