NRLA calls for financial support for landlords and tenants in Select Committee session
NRLA Chief Executive Ben Beadle has called for a comprehensive package of financial support for the private rented sector while giving evidence to the Housing, Communities & Local Government Select Committee.
Ben was called to give evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on homelessness and the private rented sector, along with representatives from Citizens Advice, the Local Government Association and homeless charity Shelter.
The NRLA was one of a number of organisations, including Shelter and Citizens Advice to issue a joint call to Government earlier this year asking for financial help for renters forced into Covid-related arrears through no fault of their own.
Addressing the committee, Ben said the most likely reason for Government inaction is one of economics and a belief that enough had been done already. This is of course true – the government has provided unprecedented support for the sector – but more is needed.
He also told the committee changes made by the Government in response to the pandemic are causing significant hardship to some landlords, in particular those whose tenants were in significant arrears pre-Covid.
He said that rather than the ‘nips and tucks’ the Government is making – for example extending notice periods – there needs to be a solid commitment to supporting the sector to prevent greater problems from building.
He said: “What we are lacking is a longer-term strategy to help the sector and I think the measures we have laid out with our colleagues from Crisis and Citizens Advice and others are a route to sustaining tenancies, which is what everyone wants.”
When asked about potential Covid-related repossessions Ben pointed to research carried out by YouGov on behalf of the NRLA in September which showed 97% of landlords had not issued notice since the start of lockdown.
He also reiterated the NRLA’s commitment to encouraging landlords to work with their tenants to keep tenancies going and the development of the golden rules, drawn up by the NRLA and included in Government guidance to help landlords reach agreements with their tenants and stay out of court.
However he said it is in the Government’s power to change policy and it can make changes to give people the means to pay their rent.
He said: “With the economic forecast being as it is, it is inevitable more people are not going to be able to afford to pay their rent.
“The focus has to be on better supporting the sector to help both landlords and tenants through this period.”