Rent arrears in 'crisis' during Covid pandemic, new figures reveal

Lisa Butler-Hart owes thousands of pounds in rent arrears and she's not eligible for furlough, as her income plummeted.

Now she has a 7-month rent backlog.

She told us "It's a viscous circle I am definitely trying to get out's tough, it's really tough".

Lisa is one of thousands now struggling with the financial reverberations of pandemic.

She said: "It makes me feel like I'm a failure, that I can't help support my family - my biggest fear is obviously that we are going to end up homeless". 

ITV News has figures suggesting a 30% rise in rent arrears across social housing during pandemic - that's an estimated £1 billion pounds outstanding according to analysis from the property data firm HouseMark.

In some areas, experts have seen a doubling of housing debt.

We have also seen research from the UK's private rental sector showing a 54% rise in arrears, it's thought 700,000 renters are now behind with rent - amounting to £640m owed to private property owners.  Many in the sector are calling this a "rents crisis", with predictions that it could lead to a surge in evictions once the current ban on bailiffs taking action is lifted. 

Property owners who rent out their properties are also anxious, especially those like Candy Richards who need to pay a mortgage even if rent does not come in. 

Ms Richards told ITV News: "An evictions ban is kicking the can down the road, it's not supporting people to stay in their home that genuinely need help". 

The UK government said it has provided support for those struggling financially and its actions prevented evictions.   

In lockdown our homes have become more important than ever, but many now fear that the impacts of rent arrears will long out last the pandemic.