A cross-party group of MPs and peers has called on the government to financially support struggling landlords and to protect hard-hit renters.
Twenty Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party MPs and three peers including Stephen Timms, Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas and Diane Abbott, are urging the government to bring forward the Renters Reform Bill to make sure landlords can’t use no-fault evictions during the pandemic or in its aftermath.
In a letter to Housing Minister Robert Jenrick, they add that that in instances where Local Housing Allowance doesn’t cover the rent arrears, local authorities should be provided with ring-fenced funding to provide grants.
The MPs also suggest that support should be made available to landlords at serious risk of financial hardship.
The letter says: “We welcome the suggestion from Generation Rent that landlords should be able to claim for up to 80% of lost rental income and that local authorities should be able to prioritise grants to those landlords who have no other income or savings, have a mortgage, or have tenants who are in serious arrears.”
Generation Rent is also calling on the government to create a Covid Rent Debt Fund to clear rent arrears, particularly in light of new DWP figures which show that more than 715,000 households could not cover their rent in full with the Local Housing Allowance.
Alicia Kennedy (pictured), director of Generation Rent, says: “The government’s inadequate support for private renters is pushing families deeper and deeper into debt, with homelessness and destitution awaiting once the crisis of the pandemic clears.”
However, responding to proposals for tenants’ loans to help clear rent debt, Amina Gichinga from London Renters Union, adds: “Government backed loans would help underwrite landlord profits but would leave renters pressured to take on massive debt repayments they can’t afford.”