The UK government has signalled it may unveil new measures to help tenants, with an eviction ban set to end on Monday.
Charities say tens of thousands of renters could be at risk of losing their homes later this year once eviction proceedings can resume in England and Wales.
A ban on the enforcement of repossession orders and bailiffs visiting homes has been in force since March, in a move designed to protect private tenants during the crisis.
Landlords call mass eviction fears “unnecessary scaremongering,” and say most landlords are trying to keep tenants in their homes.
Health chiefs including the Faculty of Public Health, British Medical Association and Royal College of Physicians have warned the lapsed ban even risks higher coronavirus infection rates.
Tenants in overcrowded temporary or emergency accommodation are less likely to be able to follow social distancing, hygiene and self-isolation measures, according to 16 health groups who wrote to housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
There are signs the pressure may be working, with a government announcement on the issue looming.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told LBC on Friday morning: “I know that getting that balance right between the renters and the landlords is something that my colleagues in the housing ministry are working closely on and I think they will make further announcements about it shortly, which I’m not privy to right now.”
Meanwhile a government spokesperson told Politico officials were “working out how best to continue supporting renters and landlords,” also promising an announcement soon.
Rent arrears are widely thought to have shot up since the crisis began as household incomes have been hammered by the virus and recession.
One study suggests average household incomes have suffered the biggest annual decline in half a century.
Housing charity Shelter estimates around 230,000 private renters in England have fallen into arrears since the pandemic began. A survey by charity Citizens Advice suggests the figure could be much higher, with 1.2 million UK households believed to have fallen behind with rent.
But the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) hit out at widespread warnings of mass evictions. They say polling shows 95% of tenants are paying full rent or have agreed lower or deferred rent payments with their landlord.
They also argue court cases must resume to evict antisocial tenants and those in arrears before the pandemic.
“Over the last five months landlords have been powerless to take any action against those who cause misery for fellow tenants and neighbours,” said NRLA director Chris Norris earlier this week.