Letting agents are the latest group to call for English landlords to be given direct financial help as the repercussions of the Covid pandemic continue to spill out into the private rental market.

This should take the form of interest-free hardship loans to help tenants pay off their Covid-related rent arrears, paid directly to landlords.

ARLA Propertymark has told Ministers within its 2021 Budget manifesto published today that landlords’ costs have increased significantly and that many can no longer make ends meet.

“The best way to ensure this happens is to make sure that tenants can pay their rent, which is why the UK Government must introduce a financial support package to reduce COVID-related rent arrears.”

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These comments echo a call yesterday by Generation Rent, which is not normally a supporter of landlords, to set up a £288m fund to help both tenants and landlords clear rent arrears.

ARLA also says that although it accepts public funds have been used to support tenants indirectly through Universal Credit and other ways, “to date there has been no direct financial support for the rental market, with individual landlords unable to access small business grants or bounce back loans”.

Mark Hayward, Propertymark’s Chief Policy Advisor (pictured), says : The property market has remained remarkably resilient during the lockdown periods so far and the government has prioritised a functioning property market.

“However, there is still progress to be made and we’re calling upon the government to make these recommended changes in order to continue to support agents, landlords, consumers and the wider housing market.”
Other budget must-haves in the manifesto include improving Universal Credit, more support for investment in the PRS and an extension to the stamp duty holiday

Rishi Sunak’s next budget is due to take place on March 3rd.

11 COMMENTS

  1. The problem with “public funds have been used to support tenants indirectly through Universal Credit” is that the tenant doesn’t have to use this money to pay their rent! They can pay all their other bills or put it on the dogs! The only way to support LLs is to give interest loans to tenants for rent arrears but pay the money directly to LLs.

    • Totally agree. Seems so obvious to me. It’s the tenants that might need the loans, not the landlords, as long as the money gets paid to the landlord (as you rightly suggest). I f a landlord gets a loan then the landlord will have to repay it. It is the tenant that needs to repay it as it is their rental payment & it is them who are benefitting from living in the property. Not difficult is it?

  2. I’d be really happy if the government told the councils to stop charging landlords 100% Council Tax on empty properties. I had tenants leave in March 2020 and my (only) property been empty ever since. It’s crippling me but who gives a fig? I am not one of those supposedly super-rich landlords: the rent was supposed to bolster my meagre state pension. Now I am living off of savings.

      • He may have had the same problem we did – the DSS tenants left three flats in such an appalling state that we could not re-let them without substantial works. The dear local council, however, insisted that unless the flats were actually falling down, or minus external walls, there was nothing wrong with them, and we were liable for 100% council tax whilst trying to fit new kitchens, bathrooms, floorcoverings, and entirely redecorate, fit new electrics etc. out of our self-employed earnings from our usual work. With only 1 day a week to spare, and very little money (we are now in extensive debt as a result) these renovations took over 2 years, and the third is still not finished. The dear local council then tried to insist that we pay 200% council tax, and any attempt to explain to them that this would make the whole thing drag on even longer, by lessening what we could spend on the renovations, was met with a gleeful chuckle and jingling of coins in pockets. We now do not accept tenants through the council – after all that work, blood, sweat etc., I’m damn well not having some filthy druggie pissing all over the place and refusing to pay for anything. Sometimes you have no choice but to keep a property empty for a considerable time, and it used to be six months ’empty and unfurnished’, but a mere month is barely enough to turn around after a decent tenant.

  3. Do you really think the tenants will pay the landlord if they get interest free loans ? If they are not paying their rent when they are getting universal, credit and they know very well the rent money is included in their universal credit ,what make you sure they will pay it if the tenants get free interest loan? I am sure they will spent it on other things.
    I think it is bad time the landlord get some help .Tenants tenants tenants they are getting all the help most of them don’t deserve .What about landlords who their tenants are working and not paying the rent what they suppose to do???

  4. The proposed loans or alternatively ‘grants’ should be made available directly to landlords with proven losses. There clearly has been no financial support for this sector of business and yet we have to carry on funding mortgages or business loans whilst in some cases receiving reduced or no rent at all. I appreciate tenants and landlords have different situations and stories to tell during such a difficult time but the Government have left landlords with very little way of evicting ‘bad’ tenants and until the laws change or the courts are able catch up with the huge backlog of over 450,000 possession orders mainly due to excessive arrears and/or anti-social behaviour, then there will be little or no chance of rent recovery and the landlords are left funding the problem but just relieved in getting their property back at some point.
    I have a number of tenants that have genuine hardship and others that are using the Covid situation as an excuse not to pay so you have to take a view on a case by case situation. Most landlords are already supporting their tenants by providing reduced rent, long term interest free loans or just writing off amounts but the fact is there is very little we can do if a tenant cannot afford their rent. Personally, I am of retirement age and have lost at what I feel is a substantial amount during the pandemic but I’m lucky as borrowing rates are down and as I don’t go out, I spend a lot less.
    There have been times when if have felt more like a support worker than landlord, having received regular text and calls into the night with problems between tenants and police attendances etc and actually arranged for one of my tenants to get booked appointments with a drug and alcohol support clinic. The tenant subsequently moved out owing £6700 rent arrears and the property refurbishment was £2000 but it’s not worth pursuing as they can’t pay what they don’t have. I have another tenant that has used the pandemic to stop paying rent and is now 12 months in arrears and I really do not know when I will get a hearing date with the courts. The government are making it ever more difficult to be a landlord now as so much is stacked in the tenants favour so I do feel that when we come out of this situation there will be far less landlords but far more tenants that will not pass referencing. This can only lead to rent increases and much more homelessness, mainly because it has been left to the landlord without any support from Government or the courts.
    We do all need to work together during these most awful of times but it needs to be acknowledged that landlords provide a service like any other business and I’m sure the majority care about the lives and well being of the families they provide homes for.

    • Support workers are paid a considerable salary for propping up worthless rubbish. Don’t feel that you have to do their job, unpaid. Never feel sorry for anyone, and if a sob story materialises, turn a deaf ear and a blind eye, or you may just as well stand outside their door and throw money at them. You do not have to be an unfeeling capitalist brute whose only interest in life is money (which is what so many rent groups think we are!) but you have a role which is clearly defined, that of being a property proprietor. And that is it. There are about 170 pieces of legislation you have to comply with (never mind tax etc.) but your tenant can trample all over you with helpful advice from CAB and Shelter about how to do it. CAB debt forms have a section ‘trouble with your landlord’, but no section ‘trouble with your tenants’. They occupy a different plane of existence, apparently. As you are not allowed be considered a business, your debt has to be considered as private, therefore there should be a section on the help form to explain that your tenant has got you into this mess. Always try to get the best tenants and don’t be suckered into feeling sorry for people who have every assistance, if they can be bothered to make use of it. Don’t let them make use of you just because they think you are a soft touch. That way leads to bankruptcy and madness…

  5. I have a tenant on universal credit who has been a ‘covid squatter’ for 12 months – keeping and spending the rent on himself because he knows he cant be evicted. I have 2 more universal credit tenants who have not paid rent since November because they ‘spent their rent on Christmas’. I work full time NHS and have had only a few days off since last march. Im owed £7500 in rent so far, and more every month due to government banning evictions. I cant even afford the cost of evicting, bailiffs and repairing 3 flats and have had to take out a personal loan to pay for a new roof and other property maintenance through 2020 on top of mortgages etc even though the tenants are contributing nothing and there is no end in sight. We have been utterly abandoned by the government but we pay tax, work hard and like me, many if us have full time jobs as well to make ends meet.
    The £7500 i will never get back. My own home i cannot afford to fix and i am exhausted from work.
    I am an honest, fair, good landlord and i should not be vilified with the rogues nor abandoned by the government i voted for. I have been a landlord for over 20 years but now i feel there is no hope.

    • Far too familiar, and another reason why tenants need to be screened as thoroughly as possible to try to minimise the risk of ending up with a dud person with zero conscience. We have been driven to the brink of bankruptcy and our health shattered by people who are, frankly, shite. I can’t remember the last time we had a holiday, our own roof is leaking, we have no proper heating. We would be better off if we rented – then it would all be someone else’s problem and we could complain to the council if they didn’t fix it!

  6. Great idea but I sincerely hope this scheme is going to be properly means tested, on a case by case basis, rather than just doled out to the masses. In theory, most people are already being helped by the government one way or another, either via Universal Credit, the furlough scheme, or the government’s help for self-employed. So only a relatively low number of tenants should find themself in a situation where they are unable to pay any rent whatsoever. Why am I so sceptical of what sounds like a ‘magic wand’ of a scheme? Because I know whose pocket the proposed handouts will ultimately come out of. Those of the landlord when the government goes ahead with their plans to drastically increase Capital Gains Tax in the near future. They give with one hand, but take away even more with the other.

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