Rent arrears “biggest debt problem in UK”

National debt advice charity the Money Advice Trust has reported that rent arrears are now the fastest growing debt problem in the UK. 

The number of calls to the charity’s National Debtline service from people with rent arrears has risen significantly since the economic crisis first hit in 2007. 

From January to October this year, the free advice helpline received nearly 20,000 calls for help from people with rent arrears, compared with just 8,000 over the same period in 2007 – an increase of 146%. Calls from people with rent arrears have increased 37% over the past two years, and 13% in the past 12 months – more than any other debt type. 

Additionally, figures suggest renters have faced a growing number of broader debt problems, with renters now accounting for 57% of total calls to National Debtline, compared to 43% in 2010. 

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “The long-term trend for rising rent prices is clear and its impact on the debt landscape is significant. Rent arrears are now the fastest growing debt problem we help people with at National Debtline, and we are in danger of falling into a rent debt crisis.

“Housing costs are the most important household bill of all, and to see such increasing numbers of people falling behind on rent payments is indicative of how the cost of living squeeze has hit many families very hard since 2007. We hear from thousands of people every month about the difficult decisions they have to make just to hold their family finances together.