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.

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Interest-free loan

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.

nrla ben beadle new pic

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.

Read Ben Beadle’s new guest blog for LandlordZONE on this subject.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Govt is NOT the slightest bit interested if LL are put out of business by ANY rent arrears.

    For Govt anything that puts small LL out of business is to be welcomed.

    Therefore Govt will NOT provide any hardship funds for tenants or LL.

    LL are deluding themselves if they believe Govt will assist them in anyway.

    Govt wishes to continue with it’s continuing eradication of small LL.

    This is a successful policy as more LL are giving up on the AST market.
    Some by selling up or converting to FHL and SA.

    Many LL will be bankrupted by the effects of rent defaulting however caused.

    The inability to repossess quickly from rent defaulting tenants renders the AST business model as dysfunctional.

    This business risk for many LL is just too much risk.

    No surprise then that LL are giving up on the AST business model.

    It is inevitable that the PRS will continue to reduce in size.

    This isn’t really a problem for departing LL but it is a massive problem for tenants who desperately need LL to remain LL in the AST sector.

    Unfortunately such tenants will be greatly disappointed as their choice of rental properties rapidly reduces.

    This will result in increasing rents.

    For those LL that have the resilience to cope with very long repossession processes resulting from rent defaulting tenants they will prosper.

    Those LL like me without such resilience are getting out of the game.

    Risking being bankrupted by just one rent defaulting tenant just isn’t worth the risk.

  2. Keeping the UC uplift is 100% wrong because who pays for it?
    Tax payers.. that’s who… not govt not NRLA.

    There is ZERO proof that tenants will more likely pay their rent regardless of keeping the uplift in UC in place. The vast majority of non-payers are already in receipt of UC + housing benefit. They spend it on holidays instead of paying rent.

    “IF” the rent portion of UC was to be paid directly to LL’s on day 1 I might have some sympathy but under current rules…. It’s simply throwing £50 notes on the fire.

    With over 1 million job vacancies there is almost zero reason for a benefit system at all.
    Time the govt simply stopped handing out cash and told people where to find a job centre instead.

  3. Why is a roof over the tenant’s head more important than electricity/gas to keep them warm and clean? The power supply industry can charge what they want, but a Landlord struggling, and depending on the rent to live like ourselves must bear the brunt of incredibly stupid laws and everyone and everything against them.

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