The English government is under pressure today to bring in a rent arrears relief grant programme after the Welsh government followed its Scots counterparts and announced a £10m Covid-related rent arrears relief scheme.
The new Welsh Tenancy Hardship Grant will start in a few weeks and is designed to help people in private rented accommodation who are struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic.
“This help in Wales follows that of Scotland, and exposes England as being the poor relation when it comes to support for the private rented sector. It is time for the Chancellor to provide similar assistance for landlords and tenants in England,” says Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA.
Qualifying tenants must have fallen behind on their rent by more than eight weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021.
The scheme has strings – rent arrears can be due to a loss of income due to furlough and a reduction in work or because they were only able to claim Statutory Sick Pay when ill with Covid-19. It is only open to people who are not receiving housing-related benefits.
This scheme will replace the existing Tenancy Saver Loan, which was introduced in December 2020 and is in addition to existing support financing. Anyone who received a loan will have that loan converted to a grant.
“I understand the stress and worry people will be experiencing if they have fallen behind in their rent,” says Welsh minister Julie James (pictured).
“Once someone falls behind with their rent it can be increasingly difficult for them to catch up without support.
“We know that if they are made homeless, the impact on them and their families is huge – so too is the cost to public services of dealing with homelessness.
“I urge anyone who is struggling to pay their rent – even if they’re just starting to have difficulties – to contact their landlord or agent and organisations like Citizen’s Advice or Shelter Cymru so they receive the right advice and support.”
“Today’s announcement is a positive step for both landlords and tenants in Wales and will help keep people in their homes,” says Ben Beadle (pictured).
“We welcome that the Welsh Government has listened to NRLA calls to introduce an improved scheme that will help more tenants pay their rent.
“It is essential that the grants are made as accessible for tenants as possible and implemented effectively. We encourage landlords who have tenants with arrears to make them aware of the scheme.”