Housing activists launch campaign to prevent rent clawback via ‘payment plans’ once Coronavirus crisis is over

Acorn says it has 38,200 signatures to support its campaign to prevent rent rises once the pandemic has subsided.

Community and tenants’ union Acorn wants the Government to stop landlords charging higher rents after the Coronavirus crisis in order to recoup lost income.

It says thousands of renters will be out of pocket for weeks or even months as they try to pay back arrears through payment plans once the crisis has abated.

Instead, the three-month payment holiday for buy-to-let mortgage holders should go together with a rent suspension with no expectation for that rent to be repaid.

It adds that many renters will simply have to keep working to avoid spiralling rent arrears debt, exposing themselves and others to unnecessary risk, while landlords will have the asset of a house when they pay off their mortgage.

Acorn’s campaign on change.org to protect renters has already got more than 38,200 signatures of its 50,000 target.

Aidan Cassidy, Bristol organiser for Acorn, says a crisis could occur once the temporary eviction ban lifts, when landlords seek to collect unpaid rent for the pandemic period – but many renters will have lost their incomes in part or entirely.

“There needs to be no expectation of rent to be paid at the end. What we need is a rent freeze” says Cassidy. “Otherwise we’ll find ourselves in a debt crisis.”

John Stewart, policy manager for the Residential Landlords Association, says it agrees with the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who told the House of Commons that the Government  should ‘ensure that rents are paid, not merely that payments are suspended for this period.’

“Tenants affected should look at the comprehensive package of measures the Chancellor has announced to support the incomes of those in employment and those claiming benefits,” he tells LandlordZONE.

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