Now that the ban on evictions has been extended until 20th September, the Government could be leaving private landlords without any rent for up to two years, says the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
The NRLA has written a letter to the Prime Minister stating that the Government is asking landlords to subsidise struggling renters and rewarding those who are wilfully refusing to pay their rent.
On top of this, the association points out that it is also causing continuing hardship to communities and families suffering anti-social behaviour and domestic violence perpetrated by tenants.
It has now been announced by the Government 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. Added to this is the six months’ notice that landlords now have to give. 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.
The English Housing Survey 2018/19 records an average weekly rent in the private sector of £200. With the potential for a landlord to lose up to two years of income, this would amount to £20,800.
The NRLA’s letter to the Prime Minister highlights that 94% of private landlords are individuals, renting out only one or two properties. These landlords are ordinary people who rely on this income to pay their living expenses.
The NRLA is warning that the Government’s failure to provide any direct financial support for the sector during the pandemic means that many landlords will be forced to seek money claims against renters building arrears. Doing this could have a huge impact on tenants’ credit scores.
They argue that the only solution to the mess the Government has created is for interest-free, government-guaranteed hardship loans to be made available to tenants to pay off arrears caused by COVID-19. These have already been introduced in Wales and will sustain tenancies, removing any risk of eviction as furlough is removed.
These measures should be accompanied by an absolute guarantee that there will not be a further extension of the ban on repossessions.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, comments: “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’s 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.”
You can download a copy of the letter sent to the Prime Minister by the NRLA here: https://www.nrla.org.uk/nrla-letter-to-pm.