Generation Rent has called on the government to set up a Covid Rent Debt Fund to help landlords with struggling tenants claim up to 80% of their rent arrears.
Ahead of a House of Lords debate on the recent extension of the evictions ban, the housing pressure group wants the Chancellor to provide £288m from the Budget to clear rent debt and keep half a million private renters in their homes.
Under Generation Rent’s proposal, the government would clear renters’ arrears, keeping them in their homes, while allowing landlords to apply for compensation up to 80% of the total rent due since March.
This afternoon’s debate on the extension to the Christmas truce – which stops bailiffs from evicting tenants until 21st February except in limited circumstances – Labour’s Lord Kennedy and Liberal Democrat Baroness Grender have tabled ‘motions of regret’ which criticise the new regulations for reducing the arrears threshold, that means tenants with more than six months’ arrears are still vulnerable to eviction, and highlight the financial challenges facing renters.
Generation Rent argues that government action has failed to address the underlying £360m of rent arrears which is putting homes at risk.
It asserts that while the idea of simply cancelling rent has raised concerns about landlords’ property rights, legal experts have backed its proposal as a proportionate way of dealing with debt that balances the interests of landlords and tenants.
Director Alicia Kennedy (pictured) says these rent arrears will be impossible to pay back even when the economy recovers.
“While most tenants are not at immediate risk of eviction, they are still being forced to pay the price of the pandemic and face the prospect of homelessness without further action,” she says. “To get these people back on their feet, we need Rishi Sunak to step in and clear these arrears with a Covid Rent Debt Fund.”