840,000 tenants are facing eviction over rent arrears – only socialist revolution can stop mass homelessness

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A REPORT by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has warned of a ‘rent debt crisis’ as up to 840,000 people in England and Wales are estimated to have built up massive rent arrears.

According to the NRLA research, arrears for private tenants average between £251 and £500, but 18% of tenants reported owing over £1,000 to their landlords – the equivalent of over 150,000 households.

Youth aged 18 to 24 are twice as likely to have run up arrears compared to the rest of private tenants.

Youth have suffered the largest job cuts throughout the crisis with workers aged under 25 twice as likely to have lost their jobs, according to research carried out by the London School of Economics back in October.

Over 58% of youth in work also saw their wages fall.

The self-employed, many of whom are working in the gig-economy, have been completely left to sink into poverty unable to access any of the Tory ‘job support’ schemes. 17% of self-employed reported they had built up debts to their private landlords.

At the start of lockdown, the Tories introduced a temporary halt on evictions for rent arrears for six months. When this period expired a further pause in evictions was brought in – that is due to end in mid-January. What this means is that in mid-January up to 840,000 people face immediate eviction orders.

The Tories may have paused evictions over rent arrears but they will have to be repaid – and repaid soon.

The NRLA’s chief executive, Ben Beadle, said: ‘Minsters need to accept that simply banning repossessions does nothing to keep tenants in their homes long-term. In fact, it will achieve the complete opposite, as in kicking the can down the road it just means larger debts piling up, creating a bigger problem for tenants and also for landlords.’

Beadle concluded by calling on the Tories to permanently cancel these debts by paying off the landlords out of treasury funds saying: ‘To sustain tenancies, the government needs to provide an urgent financial package to get rent debts built up due to the pandemic paid off.’

The Tories have no intention of paying off this debt, on the contrary, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made clear, they intend to cut all public spending in order to pay off their own colossal debt.

Yesterday, it was announced that government borrowing in November hit £31.6 billion in one month – the highest November figure on record and the third highest figure in any month since records began and six times higher than in November last year.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that this borrowing will reach £372.2 billion by the end of the financial year in March, pushing the national debt far beyond the £2.1 trillion at present.

This will coincide with Sunak’s first budget on 3rd March in which he will make good his pledge to ‘balance the books’ by carrying out super-austerity on workers and young people, stating that this massive debt ‘is clearly unsustainable.’

There will be no room in Sunak’s budget for paying off rent arrears. Instead, the Tories will insist that landlords and councils carry out a mass eviction campaign designed to frighten people into starving to pay the rent – or be thrown onto the streets.

A future of unemployment, poverty and homelessness is all that this bankrupt capitalist system can offer workers and young people.

The only solution is to put an end to this capitalist system by building a new leadership in the unions and working class that is prepared to mobilise the strength of the working class to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.

Immediately, a workers government will take over all the empty properties owned by the capitalist class to ensure no one is left homeless and go on to nationalise the building industry and land, to swiftly build millions of council houses needed to provide decent housing for every worker and young person.

Join the WRP and Young Socialists to build the revolutionary leadership required to lead the socialist revolution to victory.