The Government could be considering a U-turn over its refusal to offer tenant loans after several peers called for an England-wide scheme during a debate in the House of Lords.

Last month, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher rejected calls from MPs to give tenants more financial support, but yesterday his counterpart Lord Greenhalgh wouldn’t dismiss the idea.

When asked if he would be introducing a hardship loan scheme to help pay-off COVID-related rent arrears – which both Welsh and Scottish renters now have access to – he replied: “We need to get the balance right between the rights of renters and protecting and safeguarding the interests of landlords.”

In a debate on rent, evictions and Covid-19, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate told peers that the welfare of tenants should be safeguarded fairly without destroying the financial viability of innocent landlords, who had an interest in maintaining good tenants.

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“With rent arrears above £400 million and to avoid a future homelessness crisis, have the Government considered developing an equitable solution for both tenants and landlords by providing a financial package to pay off rent arrears built up as a direct result of the coronavirus?” he asked.

Conservative Lord Flight agreed that there should be more protection for struggling landlords.

He added: “A lot of landlords are elderly people and their source of income may be the rental from one property. We have to look at both renters and those who are renting.”

Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association, says it’s been calling for months for Covid-related hardship loans that are interest free, guaranteed by the Government and paid directly to landlords.

“It is a welcome development that ministers now appear to be considering this and we urge them to act fast to help landlords and tenants to sustain tenancies,” he tells LandlordZONE.

Watch the debate in full.

Read: How organise a tenant repayment plan.

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