CAB sees rise in enquiries over rent arrears

The Citizens Advice Bureaux dealt with 14% more housing problems in the three months July – September 2010 compared with the same period last year.

New figures show that in Q2 of this financial year the overall rise in housing problems was fuelled by big increases in enquiries about homelessness, both actual and threatened.

At the same time bureaux continued to deal with a big increase in rent arrears to private landlords.

Actual or threatened homelessness problems rose 22% from 20,289 to 24,720, while rent arrears to private landlords rose 19% from 5,876 to 7,020.

Problems with access to accommodation rose 20% from 8,305 to 9,952.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says: “Housing has always been one of the top four issues dealt with by Citizens Advice Bureaux, but this big increase in the number of homelessness enquiries we are seeing is very worrying. The rapid growth in rent arrears to private sector landlords should also ring loud alarm bells with the government, MPs and local councils as they consider the likely impact of the big cuts to housing benefit that are looming.

“Most of the private tenants we see with rent arrears are on incomes of less than £1,000 a month, and many are in low paid work, or have lost their job in the recession and fallen into debt as a result of the sudden big drop in income. Many are already struggling to meet a shortfall between housing benefit payments and their rent. The planned cuts could tip tens of thousands more individuals and families into rent arrears, putting them at real risk of homelessness.”