Rent arrears are the fastest-growing debt problem, a charity warned this week. The Money Advice Trust said the number of people calling its debtline with problems paying their rent has doubled in the past three years.
In 2010 just 6.3 per cent of callers were in rent arrears. In 2013 the number climbed to 12.3 per cent.
“The long-term trend for rising rent prices is clear and its impact on the debt landscape is significant,” said Joanna Elson, the charity’s chief executive.
“We are in danger of falling into a rent debt crisis,” she added.
Campbell Robb, the chief executive of housing charity Shelter, also expressed concern about the growing problem: “With nine million people now renting from a private landlord, high rents are stretching many ordinary families to the limits of what they can afford.
“Until we put an end to the housing shortage that’s driving up rents and house prices, things are only going to get worse,” Mr Robb said.
The Money Advice Trust said problems were growing partly as incomes remain low, but also because people in debt are finding it difficult to get affordable credit.
“As credit becomes harder to access, people who used to build up large debt are now falling more quickly into rent arrears,” said Paul Craystone of the charity.
Many people struggling to pay their rent are reluctant to tell their landlords.
However, National Debtline says struggling folk should be honest about difficulties.
“Nearly always the best thing to do is open up a dialogue,” says Mr Craystone.
The charity also warned that rent should be treated as the highest-priority debt.