Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has refused to back calls for struggling tenants to have their rent arrears written off when the Coronavirus crisis is over.
Although Khan cannot be described as landlord friendly, under close questioning by the Green party in the London Assembly he avoided at all costs committing to a rent ‘forgiveness’ programme, as it is known.
His comments came at the end of a debate about homelessness and were made during an excruciating few minutes of cat and mouse with Sian Berry, who heads up the Green Party in the London Assembly.
She repeatedly called for Khan to endorse rent forgiveness in the capital, but after three attempts gave up when the debate ran out of time.
“I asked you about extending the eviction proceedings ban and forgiving arrears that have been built up so far,” said Berry.
“As far as I can tell, your ‘triple lock’ merely extends the period of repayment for arrears.
“The principle here should be that renters should not be shouldering the burden of these arrears and that the Government should be helping small landlords in the way it helps any other small business.”
Khan again ignored her request for clarity on his approach to rent forgiveness, saying instead that the government should support both tenants and landlords.
“You are still saying [tenants] should pay [their rent arrears] back. I am not sure that that is the answer that I was hoping for, but hopefully we can persuade you to change your tune in future weeks,” said Berry.