Boris Johnson told: You’ve kicked the rental sector in the teeth

A leading trade body has told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that some landlords face receiving no rent for two years.

In a letter to Johnson, the National Residential Landlords Association accuses the government of expecting landlords to subsidise struggling renters and reward those who are wilfully refusing to pay their rent.

It is also accused of causing continuing hardship to communities and families suffering anti-social behaviour and domestic violence perpetrated by tenants.

This letter follows the last minute eviction ban U-turn last week.

The government has now said that repossession cases on the grounds of rent arrears will not be treated as a priority until tenants have built over a year’s worth of rent debts; in addition landlords now have to give six months notice of possession.

Where the case is disputed, even before the pandemic, courts were taking an average of nearly six months to deal with cases, with the backlog this is now likely to be longer.

Taking the English Housing Survey average weekly rent in the private sector of £200, the NRLA says this means a potential lost income for a landlord of up to two years amounting to £20,800.

The letter to Johnson says 94 per cent of private landlords are individuals, letting out just one or two properties.

The NRLA is warning that the failure to provide any direct financial support for the sector during the pandemic means many landlords will be forced to make claims against renters building arrears.

“This would leave tenants’ credit scores in tatters” says the association.

The NRLA argues that the only route out is for interest free, government guaranteed hardship loans to be made available to tenants to pay-off COVID related arrears. These have been introduced in Wales and will sustain tenancies and remove any risk of eviction as furlough is removed, the association says.

These measures should be accompanied by a guarantee that there will not be a further extension of the ban on repossessions.

Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive says: “The overwhelming majority of landlords have been working constructively with their tenants to sustain tenancies where rent arrears have built as a direct result of the pandemic.

“The government actions are a kick in the teeth for all these landlords who have done the right thing.

“Ministers must use the next four weeks to come up with a credible plan that pays off rent arrears built due to the pandemic and gets the courts hearing cases again.

“Stopping landlords from legally ending failed and disruptive tenancies is not a solution. The Government must act to cover the costs of providing homes, they cannot expect landlords to foot the bill for their failure to support households.”

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