The government has ‘given up’ on landlords and tenants struggling with post-Covid rent arrears debt, trade body the National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) has said.
It is concerned that the sector faces a cliff edge as both rising energy prices, the end of furlough and the government’s decision to cut Universal Credit by £20-a-week impact tenants already struggling after months of Covid, and is demanding that the Chancellor introduces an interest-free hardship loan scheme.
The NRLA says renters are most likely to have lost their jobs or been furloughed during the pandemic and now face mounting rent debts.
To highlight the size of the problem, it has published a new report this morning which also highlights how, by the Government’s own admission, the percentage of private tenants in arrears tripled between 2019/20 to the end of 2020 from three to nine percent, and that many of their landlords are also now ‘highly vulnerable to rent arrears’, as the government itself recently admitted.
The NRLA is calling on the Chancellor to develop an interest-free, government-backed guaranteed hardship loan to support the majority of tenants with COVID related rent debts who are not eligible for benefit support.
This scheme would help these tenants to pay off their rent debts and would follow the introduction of similar schemes in Scotland and Wales. More broadly, it is calling on the Government to scrap plans cut Universal Credit payments to avoid potentially devastating consequences for tenants across the country.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA (pictured), says: “Many tenants and landlords have struggled to cope during the pandemic leaving them exposed to the impact of rent debts which they are unlikely to ever pay off.
“By ending furlough and cutting benefits in quick succession, and without the introduction of a targeted package to tackle COVID related rent debt, the Government is worsening an already critical situation.
“Without transitional support, and as the country gets back to normal, the Chancellor will be turning his back on those renters and landlords in desperate need of help.”
Read more: How rent arrears payment plans work.