The local government sector is braced for a deluge of homelessness following the end of the evictions ban.
Imposed during the coronavirus lockdown as a temporary measure, the ban on evictions of renters is due to end on Sunday.
Research by the District Councils’ Network (DCN) suggested as many as 500,000 households could be at risk.
DCN found 486,242 households were paying more than half of their income on private rented housing, leaving them vulnerable to a drop in income.
The charity Shelter found that 227,000 private renters have fallen into rent arrears during lockdown, leaving them at risk of eviction.
DCN spokesman Cllr Giles Archibald said: ‘As the cliff edge nears little has been done to ensure the welfare system will support those vulnerable families at risk of homelessness and we are now at the precipice without a plan.
The network called for more funding for council homelessness support services, a lifting of the benefit cap and a permanent increase in housing benefit to cover the lowest third of market rent.
London Councils also pressed for increased funding and changes to benefits, in addition to a 12-month suspension of no recourse to public funds restrictions .
It estimated boroughs will spend an extra £96m on homelessness and rough sleeping due to the impact of COVID-19.
London Councils’ executive member for housing, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: ‘The combination of massive job losses and the eviction ban coming to an end means we’re bracing ourselves for an avalanche of evictions in the coming weeks and months.
‘We’re very concerned about what this means for local support services, which are already extremely stretched and would struggle to cope with a spike in homelessness.'
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has also received letters from Greater Manchester Combined Authority and a coalition of Labour council leaders, including the London, Liverpool city region and North of Tyne mayors calling for an extension to the evictions ban.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been approached for comment.