Rent arrears in the social housing sector have surpassed the £1bn mark over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, hitting a new record, latest data has shown.
The HouseMark research revealed a 30% rise in outstanding rent arrears since March last year, with some forecasts suggesting arrears levels may not return to pre-pandemic levels till March 2022.
The increase equates to an additional £300m in arrears since March, which contributed to the record total of more than £1bn.
The data is based on figures from 104 social housing providers for December 2020, with trend data since March 2020.
Many renters have faced financial hardship due to the repeated lockdowns and other restrictions imposed over the course of the pandemic.
Commenting on the findings, Laurice Ponting, chief executive of HouseMark, said: “As we reflect on 10 months of the pandemic, our UK sector-wide monthly impact analysis has established a clear link between lockdown measures and arrears.
“When the tier system was introduced, our October analysis showed that those areas operating with tougher restrictions reported average arrears levels 40% higher than their counterparts and, in some cases, landlords reported a 100% increase.
“Urban areas with higher levels of deprivation are also being disproportionately affected.
“Landlords are facing increased operating costs against a backdrop of complex challenges.
“We are working closely with our members and the wider sector to contextualise the impact of the pandemic and provide the on-time insight and forecasts they need to take mitigating action with confidence.”
Image: Keith A Frith/Shutterstock
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