Financial support package needed now to address COVID-related arrears

Propertymark, alongside other organisations, has written to Eddie Hughes MP (Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing) to emphasise the sector's ongoing concerns over COVID-related rent arrears and urged the UK Government to introduce emergency financial support.

The organisations have provided a briefing to the Minister which explains why renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since the start of lockdown measures in March 2020 cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support. 

Urgent action required to protect renters

Measures from the UK Government have provided some short-term relief but have not done enough to protect renters going forward. Rental debts built up during the pandemic now threaten a two-speed recovery, with millions of renters facing a lost future from long-term debt problems, and the threat of homelessness and eviction.

As support tapers down, Propertymark, Generation Rent, Shelter, Money Advice Trust, NRLA and Step Change are calling on the UK Government to take urgent action to sustain tenancies and protect renters. This is important to reduce the impact on tenants from negative credit ratings and keep renters in their homes, whilst ensuring rental debt does not risk families being locked out of future homes.

With the furlough scheme ending in September, the UK Government must build a bridge to recovery and provide a dedicated financial support package for the sector.

While measures through the welfare system have been welcome, more needs to be done to alleviate COVID-related arrears and remove the risk of eviction. Propertymark has added our support to the cross-sector campaign, representing the voice of our membership.

Timothy Douglas Policy and Campaigns Manager | Propertymark

Support needed for COVID-related rent arrears

The organisations that have worked together throughout the pandemic are continuing to campaign for an emergency financial support package of grants and no-interest loans to help tenants to clear COVID-related rent arrears and emerge from the crisis with a fresh start is proposed.

The briefing also outlines how grants could be targeted at the worst-affected tenants, with a wider programme of no-interest loans for others, such as those who have been furloughed. This would work with the dynamics of recovery, with loans repaid as renters regain their financial position.

The UK Government has an opportunity to deliver decisive action on private rental tenancies threatened by the crisis and alleviate problem debt harm. By providing an orderly way to wind down COVID-19 rent debts, proposals would give hundreds of thousands of renters a bridge to recovery and help renters to keep their homes.

Propertymark campaign

We provided written evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee in the UK in May and November 2020. In our responses we raised concerns about the number of tenants in rent arrears, landlords being impacted financially, the difficulty for the sector to comply with new and existing legislation including an inability for agents and landlords to fully comply with local authority licensing schemes, and new legislation providing continued protection for those in extreme rent arrears and refusing to pay rent. 

View the joint statement