Scottish charity warns of ‘huge increase’ in people seeking advice on rent arrears

Citizens Advice Scotland said more and more people are falling behind on rent

The number of people seeking help from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) about rent arrears has increased by almost 40 per cent.

The charity said more and more people are falling behind on rent, and raised concerns about the impact of higher energy costs as the winter approaches.

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Figures showed a 37 per cent increase in demand for advice around rent arrears in the year to September, the organisation said.

Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA WirePicture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Aoife Deery, the social justice spokesperson for CAS, said: “Over the past year, we have seen a huge increase in people seeking advice on rent arrears, suggesting more and more people are falling behind on the rent.

“What we have seen over the course of this cost-of-living crisis is people having to make impossible choices on spending, literally between putting the heating on, the weekly food shop or paying the rent.

“Since the pandemic we have seen a range of legal protections introduced by the Scottish Parliament to offer protections to tenants, and the Scottish Government plan to introduce a Housing Bill in this Parliament. That will be a huge opportunity to make sure the system works for people.

“If anyone is concerned about money, bills or paying their rent or mortgage, they should seek advice from the Citizens Advice network. Our website offers people a range of options to boost their incomes or cut their costs, and our online advice pages have a range of information people can trust around their housing rights.

“Last year the network unlocked over £142 million for people through things like employment entitlements, social security payments and other benefits in kind. Our advice is free, confidential and impartial and we don’t judge, we just help.”

CAS said one NHS worker sought help after seeing her rent increase to £610 a month. The woman, who lives alone and has a history of mental health issues, began to accumulate debt as a result of having to take time off from work.

Elsewhere, a mother and daughter, both in work, sought advice for a food bank referral after prioritising their rent and building up debts in other areas such as utilities. Their monthly rent is £750 and they are worried about their ability to keep paying rent, the charity said.

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CAS has previously warned about rising demand for advice around illegal evictions and rent increases, despite legislation being in place to protect tenants.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This year and last we have allocated almost £3 billion to support policies to tackle poverty and to protect people as far as possible during the cost of living crisis. Last month, MSPs approved a further six-month extension of measures to protect tenants through the cost-of-living crisis, including the 3 per cent rent cap and additional eviction protections.

“We intend to take forward legislation to provide greater protection to prevent homelessness, keep rent affordable and make tenancies more secure. We are also investing heavily to increase housing supply and the number of affordable homes completed in the latest year to the end of March 2023 is the highest annual figure in more than two decades.”



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