At the end of January 2020, I was made redundant. However, I was given a much appreciated redundancy package with severance pay, and was able to quickly find a new job to move into. That was however before the coronavirus and lockdown was enforced and, at the end of March, I lost this job as well. I was able to temporarily pay my rent and living costs from my original severance pay, but under the unaffordable rent costs in London, these savings soon dwindled away.
In good faith, and in an effort to avoid debt, I contacted my landlord, requesting that, with the allowances property owners had been given by the Government, I could have a rent reduction until I found another job. My request was met with an outright rejection, and I quickly started receiving aggressive letters from my landlord’s solicitors, demanding that I pay the rent in full. This was impossible, and I was forced to terminate my tenancy in London and move away.
I am one of the lucky ones, and I was able to move back in with my parents in Southampton where I have been living over the course of the rest of the pandemic. There are thousands across the country however, who are not so lucky. Thousands who lack a support network to rely on when they lose their jobs, face financial hardship or an unaffordable and extortionate renting market.
Despite earning well over the national average, I could not come close to being able to build up personal savings of any significant amount, let alone to find enough money to put down the deposit on a house of my own. Renters have been struggling to get by in the capital city, and in the South East in general, for many years, but the coronavirus pandemic has acted as the catalyst in bringing us to the edge of a rent debt and homelessness crisis.
This is why I am calling on the Government to offer more support for renters, especially those experiencing a drop in income as a result of the coronavirus, to give the courts the power to halt evictions in extreme cases, to ensure the benefits system covers housing costs, to prevent further arrears from building up and to stop section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
Adam is not alone. Research conducted by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University has recently revealed that around 3.5 million single young adults in the UK are estimated to live with their parents, an increase of a third over the past decade. 71% of young single adults are now living with their parents during their early 20s, and a majority (54%) are living at the parental home in their late 20s. Moreover, a third still live with their parents in their early 30s. Although this trend, dubbed the 'boomerang' effect is part of a long-term pattern, researchers believe the corononavirus has contributed to the rise of young people living with parents - university closures, the shift to remote working, job losses (especially in the retail and hospitality sectors) and furloughs are increasing the likelihood of adult children returning to their parental home or abandoning plans to leave.
Yet, not all young people, or for that matter renters in general, have such a support network to rely on.
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