by: Mary-Anne Bowring/Landlord News
Extension Equals relief for Renters
The Ministry of Housing has announced that the suspension of evictions will be extended until 23rd August. Dan Wilson Craw, Director of Generation Rent, has commented: “It’s a relief that the Government has listened to renters’ concerns and is extending the ban. Renters who have lost income in the past few months are extremely worried about losing their home as a result. The Government has averted a homelessness crisis – for now. “But with holes in the housing safety net and much of the economy still in lockdown, millions of renters will get further behind on rent. Not all of them can rely on their landlord’s goodwill and so need further help with rent, and assurance that they can stay in their homes beyond the summer.
“The Government must use the time it has bought itself to develop a long-term solution to provide rent relief and end unfair evictions for good.” Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley, said: “There’s no doubt that thousands of renters that are suffering financial difficulty will be happy to hear the news from the government this afternoon and will now feel more secure in their homes.
“With all of the uncertainty going on at the moment, tenants deserve to be protected by the government from evictions that could be through no fault of their own, and could well be down to financial hardship brought on by being furloughed or losing their job altogether, but this needs to be balanced by proving that their income has gone down. “The worry is that many landlords are retired, according to the English Private Landlord Survey, as many as 33% are. These landlords may well not have a mortgage to claim a repayment holiday on, rely on property income and without rent or furlough monies may struggle to survive. “However, it should be noted as recent research by the National Residential Landlords Association pointed out that the majority of landlords are trying to work with their tenants to resolve any issues such as rent arrears. “Looking at the long term, the government may need to consider other ways of financially supporting households post-crisis.
For example, through higher housing benefit payments as clearly the high cost of the furlough scheme means it cannot last indefinitely. “Tenants and landlords should be working together in what is a difficult time for everybody, and should not use the eviction ban as an excuse to mistreat the property they live in or withhold rent if they are not in a genuinely financially difficult situation. “Some renters may need more financial assistance from the government but cancelling rents as some have suggested or getting the government to pay would be hugely damaging.” Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), commented: “This decision means that some landlords will now be facing five months without receiving any rent as they can take no action against tenants who were not paying before the lockdown started.
“It also means more misery for tenants and neighbours suffering at the hands of anti-social tenants and will also cause exceptional hardship for a number of landlords, including many who depend on their rental income to live, for which there is no assistance. “We have every sympathy with tenants who face genuine difficulties because of a loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis and as our survey out tomorrow shows, nearly all landlords are working with tenants who are struggling to keep them in their home.
“It is important that the Government sets out its plans for the market at the end of this one-time extension. A failure to do so will cause serious damage to the private rented sector as a whole. “It will ultimately be tenants who suffer as they will find it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing if landlords do not have the confidence that they will get their properties back swiftly in legitimate circumstances.”
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