National initiatives such as Help to Buy are improving affordability for new homebuyers, however the resultant rise in house prices could have negative effects for the rent market – one Seaford letting agent recently stated that rising prices are already making things more difficult for renters.
The trickle-down effect of economic gloom continues to take hold in the UK, as Shelter, the housing charity, suggests that one in eleven are anxious about being able to pay their rent or mortgage each month. Its survey, conducted by YouGov, interviewed more than 4,000 adults across the UK and results imply that people are watching their spending and counting the pennies so that they can afford to keep their home or rented accommodation.
While Shelter deals with housing issues from homelessness to repairs and homeless benefits every day, the fact that they commissioned the survey shows that they want to draw attention to the reality that people in the UK are still gripped by uncertainty. It says that: “In the past year, the number of people coming to Shelter who can’t pay their rent or mortgage has risen by almost a third.” Meanwhile 70% of households with children are struggling or falling behind with their payments, compared to 63% of the general population.
Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) advises that taking action quickly is the most important thing to do if you’re struggling to pay rent. If you are in arrears by more than eight weeks’ rent, your property’s landlord may take legal action leaving the court no choice but to serve an eviction notice.
Burying our heads in the sand is a tactic we’re apparently using to avoid financial stress, with almost one in five saying they haven’t opened letters if they think it’s a bill or late payment reminder. Shelter says they often don’t see people until the situation is at crisis point, suggesting that the earlier people can at least have a conversation and discuss options the better otherwise it spirals out of control.
Not only does the survey reveal that the UK isn’t creeping out of economic turmoil, it also gives an indication of the levels of stress, worry and emotional strain financial difficulty is putting on the population. NIDirect, the Government’s Northern Ireland agency, advises that it’s not just about paying your rent back, it’s important to look at the holistic picture and look at all your finances.
By facing up to the fact that a problem exists and simply making a list of all debts and prioritising them will help to get a clear picture of what is outstanding and make the situation much clearer. Then by looking at income and known expenses will show what monies you may have leftover, and what could potentially be paid back to the landlord or whoever you owe money to. The National Debtline (0808 808 4000) is an easy way to just talk to someone and get unbiased, anonymous help, and they can advise on how to organise an agreed responsible debt management plan.
The Internet is also a great starting place to get initial advice, the Consumer Action Group provides an online forum where people can directly get news and advice from others and is a good source of information. Local CABs are available to talk to tenants struggling to pay rent as well as landlords about unpaid rent. You can also visit shelter.org.uk/advice.