Landlords who have benefited from a mortgage holiday should pass this on to financially distressed tenants, according to Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley, which manages thousands of homes across the UK.
In March the government confirmed that landlords could apply for a three-month mortgage holiday if tenants are struggling to pay rent.
To help renters, the government also banned eviction proceedings and urged tenants to work with their landlord in situations where they are struggling to pay rent.
And a recent survey by Landlord Action found nearly three-quarters of landlords had been contacted by tenants about rent payments, highlighting the severe impact the lockdown has had on household finances.
As such Bowring has called for further support to help renters either not covered by income support schemes or who have not yet received additional cash from government support schemes.
She said tenants who are out of work and struggling on reduced incomes should be able to ask if their landlord has secured a mortgage repayment, interest or repayment-and-interest holiday.
If their landlord has benefited from a mortgage holiday, renters should also be able to ask to have their rents reduced if they can prove they are not eligible for cash through the government’s schemes and their reduction in income leaves them below the original affordability criteria upon which their tenancy was originally assessed and granted.
She said: “The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used a lot in response to the impact coronavirus is having but statistic after statistic shows a level of damage not even seen during the worst of the Great Financial Crisis.
“The government has moved decisively to help protect tenants and landlords, but it is inevitable some households will fall through the gaps as the various income support schemes get up and running and payments are processed.
“Transparency is key, and renters have a right to know if their landlord has benefited from a mortgage holiday and if they are struggling financially should be able to request a reduction in rent.
“Any rent reduction must be conditional on being able to prove financial hardship to prevent abuse and it is important tenants and landlords work together during this uniquely difficult time. What is important is that the government doesn’t effectively payout twice.”
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