Package to support tenants hit by coronavirus
The country’s leading landlord organisations are calling for a package of measures from Government and mortgage lenders to support tenants and landlords affected by the coronavirus.
In a joint statement, the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association said: “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.”
Emergency measures to protect people facing homelessness in the coronavirus outbreak
On top of this, homelessness charity Crisis is calling on national governments and local councils to take emergency measures to ensure people experiencing homelessness can access self-contained accommodation with private bathrooms.
The charity is deeply concerned that the measures set out don’t go far enough. Crucially, the current COVID-19 guidance fails to include measures to enable people who are sleeping rough, or living in shelters and hostels, to self-isolate.
People experiencing homelessness, particularly those rough sleeping, are particularly vulnerable in this outbreak. They are three times more likely to experience a chronic health condition including asthma and COPD.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “The guidance we have received to-date is inadequate. It fails to set out a plan for how people experiencing homelessness can self-isolate in this outbreak.
“We need emergency action to protect people in this very vulnerable situation – this must include testing and access to housing. Let’s not forget that the average age of death of someone who is homeless is 45, substantially lower than the general population. Given the obvious vulnerability, the only answer can be to provide housing that allows people to self-isolate.”
Crisis is calling for the following measures to be taken as a matter of urgency:
- People sleeping rough and living in hostel and shelter accommodation to have rapid access to healthcare assistance and appropriate housing
- Assistance from national governments to secure hotel-style accommodation to meet the increased need
- Removal of legal barriers so that anyone who is at risk of, or is already homeless, can access self-contained accommodation
- Provide additional financial support through the Universal Credit system to ensure people are not pushed to the brink of homelessness
- Protect renters from evictions by temporarily suspending the use of Section 21 and Section 8 evictions
The charity is calling for the Westminster Government to ringfence a proportion of the £5bn fund announced in the Budget last week to fight Covid-19 for local authorities to help deliver these measures.
Crisis is also calling for national governments and local councils to ensure that frontline workers in homelessness organisations are recognised as an emergency service as part of their response to COVID-19.