Mayor Wants A Triple Lock System For Renters

The Daily Mail has just run a story that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is urging the government to implement a triple lock system for renters, as he is concerned that once lockdown restrictions are rescinded then many could be in a dangerous situation of being evicted, once the suspension is ended.

At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic the government suspended all ongoing eviction processes which is due to end in the summer, Khan is proposing that the following triple lock protection system to protect tenants, should be introduced.

His proposal includes the following:

“Immediately increase welfare support for renters, suspend the Benefit Cap, restore Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to median market rents, and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19 – including those with no recourse to public funds. This could be achieved by setting aside LHA rates for those who are affected by COVID-19.

“Once the temporary suspension of court proceedings is lifted in June, prevent private landlords from evicting tenants who have accrued arrears as a result of COVID-19. This could be achieved by making section 8 (the arrears ground for eviction) discretionary in court proceedings.

“Scrap so-called ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions. This would prevent landlords evicting tenants affected by COVID-19 using this route as an alternative to the section 8 method.”

As soon as his proposals were sent to the government Khan commented: “For too long, renters in the capital and across the country have been denied the security they need in the place they call home. The current crisis has brought these issues into stark relief.

“With millions of low paid renters in London now facing increased financial uncertainty we face a ticking timebomb of debt, arrears and widespread evictions once the suspension in court proceedings is lifted.

“The Government must urgently put in place measures that will prevent private landlords from evicting tenants who go into arrears as a result of COVID-19.

“Failing to bring in more support for renters will not only result in widespread financial hardship, but risks increasing the public health crisis, as renters may feel forced to return to work too soon with increasing debt and arrears hanging over their heads.”

Unsurprisingly many landlords are in favour of the suggestion for the LHA (Local Housing Allowance) change, as the current the rates are calculated using the bottom third of average rents across each broad rental market area.

Switching people from existing legacy system of benefits to Universal Credit will fill many recipients with dread because of delays in receiving their first payments.

A trade association is very aware of the problem that this may cause tenants on benefits.

A spokesperson for the association responded to the proposals and said: “Recent polling has indicated that just two per cent of private tenants have had to stop paying rent due to the pandemic whilst 78 percent have not had to make any changes to their living situation.

“This shows that the vast majority of tenancies are continuing as normal which we welcome.

“For those tenants who are struggling, by far the best solution is to ensure they are supported to prevent arrears building.

“We therefore welcome the Mayor’s calls to increase the Local Housing Allowance. In addition, we repeat our call on the Government to scrap the five week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit immediately and ensure tenants can have the housing element of the Credit paid directly to their landlord if they wish.

“This would provide tenants and landlords with the confidence that rents are covered and debts will not arise.”

Blog Post from PIMS

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