At least half a million private renters are in arrears due to the economic impact of COVID-19. The UK Government’s own research shows that ‘private renters report being hardest hit by the pandemic’.
Renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since lockdown cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support.
Propertymark, NRLA, The Big Issue Ride Out Recession Alliance, Crisis, Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Money Advice Trust, The Mortgage Works, Nationwide Building Society, StepChange Debt Charity and Shelter welcome many of the measures taken to date, which have helped to sustain tenancies in the short term. But they do not go far enough to adequately protect renters going forward.
The longer the Chancellor waits to take action, the more rent debts will increase, and the greater the risk of homelessness will become. Without additional support, more renters will lose their homes in the coming months, with the risk of an increase in homelessness.
The organisations issuing the joint statement have the aim of sustaining tenancies wherever possible and consider that this requires two things in the forthcoming budget:
- A targeted financial package to help renters pay off arrears built since lockdown measures started in March last year. This will help to sustain existing tenancies and keep renters in their homes – whilst also ensuring rental debt does not risk them finding homes in the future.
- A welfare system that provides renters with the security of knowing that they can afford their homes. The pandemic has shown how vital this is to providing security at a time of crisis. The Government increased Universal Credit and Housing Benefit because it recognised that the system was not doing enough to support people in the first place, yet it has chosen to freeze Housing Benefit rates again from April and is considering cutting Universal Credit at the same time. It cannot be right that these measures could be pulled away from renters during continued economic uncertainty.
Action from the Chancellor now is urged to avoid renters being scarred by debts they have no hope of clearing and a wave of people having to leave their homes in the weeks and months to come.
Propertymark's COVID-related rent arrears campaign
Propertymark continues to focus on campaigning for Government support for COVID-related rent arrears in England in order to #keeptherentflowing.
Since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, we have been working with government departments and politicians to ensure that our members get the support they need, and the property sector can operate safely.
The latest message from ARLA Propertymark President Angela Davey, outlines the measures that should be put in place, our serious concerns about landlords exiting the sector and asks every member to join the campaign by contacting their MP, referencing cases in your area.
Update from ARLA Propertymark President, Angela Davey - 11 February
Angela raises our concerns about a lack of financial support for the private rented sector from the UK Government. There are schemes put in place by the Welsh and Scottish Governments, but currently the UK Government has been slow to react. Angela talks about what we are calling for and how you can help us take that message to UK Government.
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