Pressure building to help private tenants hit by Coronavirus

One of the lettings sector’s leading trade bodies has called on the government and lenders to agree a package of measures to support tenants and landlords affected by Coronavirus.

In a joint statement, the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association says: “We are encouraging all landlords to work positively with tenants to provide support where needed throughout this difficult period. Landlords should be as flexible as they can to help tenants facing payment difficulties resulting from the impact of the coronavirus.

“To support landlords in this we are calling for a package of measures from government and mortgage providers.

“This includes a temporary scrapping of the five week wait before Universal Credit claimants get their first payment, pausing the final phase of restricting mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax and ensuring lenders look sympathetically on requests by landlords for mortgage payment holidays where their income is being affected through reduced or non-payment of rent.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Government is “actively considering” measures to prevent tenants from being evicted as a result of financial hardship created by the Coronavirus – and the housing minister there agrees.

Scottish Housing News reports that the housing minister in the SNP administration, Kevin Stewart, has already received a campaign petition calling for such a policy.

The petition also asks for tenants affected by coronavirus to be granted a rent holiday and collections paused, including for those unable to work or who need to self-isolate.

The campaigners – in a group called Living Rent – say on their website: “We want to see that this crisis does not make life harder for those that are already suffering under austerity, universal-credit reforms and skyrocketing rent.

“While bankers, landlords and mortgaged homeowners are being supported, the silence of the government regarding tenants and their needs is shocking.”

“This is part of our urgent consideration on what wider measures can be put in place to support people against the economic impacts of coronavirus and further announcements will be made.

“People affected by coronavirus who are concerned about paying their rent can claim Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions which includes support for housing costs, if eligible. The UK Government has introduced some temporary changes to make this easier.”

Yesterday the anti-agent campaign group Acorn made a similar call in England.

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