A landlord body says some tenants will have little choice but to increase their risk of contracting Coronavirus because of inadequate housing benefits.
The National Residential Landlords Association says many people under 35 relying on benefit to pay their rent for the first time will find that support only covers the cost of a room in a shared house.
The association warns this will force many young renters to choose between building unsustainable debts or moving into cheaper, shared housing.
“Apart from forcing people to move home in the middle of restrictions, this could potentially involve living with strangers with all the health risks that this poses during the pandemic” says a statement from the association.
It has now written to welfare minister Will Quince, demanding the government adopt the recommendations of the Social Security Advisory Committee and suspend the Shared Accommodation Rate rule.
The NRLA argues that this should be for a period of at least a year.
Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive, says: “It is unacceptable that younger renters are being forced to choose between building debts or compromising their health during a pandemic.
“Whilst the vast majority of landlords have done everything they can to support renters whose finances have been hit due to the virus, it cannot be right that landlords and tenants are left to muddle through without greater support.
“If money can be found to subsidise meals out, the government must find the finances needed to support tenants, and in turn landlords, to pay off rent arrears, sustain tenancies and protect people’s health.”
The association says government statistics show a significant increase in the proportion of Universal Credit claimants in the younger age brackets.
In the four weeks to October 8, the proportion of claimants aged between 16 and 24 was just over 27 per cent, up from 21 per cent in four weeks to the March 12.