A Tenant Hardship Loan Fund has been launched in Scotland this week, to support anyone struggling to pay their rent. The scheme is part of a bigger £10m package of support and it will open for applications later this autumn.
In Wales, a similar scheme has been announced, with the Welsh government also offering tenants loans to pay off Covid-19 related rent arrears.
The UK government has so far been very quiet on the subject of loans but we are now likely to see it facing increased pressure to come up with its own scheme. Last week’s announcement on notice periods was very welcome but many landlords now find themselves in financial difficulties through no fault of their own and need support too.
The number of people in work has already dropped by 220,000 between May and July (source: ONS) and these figures don’t include furloughed employees or those on zero hours contracts who were not working during that period. Looking ahead, some estimates put the number of people unemployed by Christmas this year as high as three million – figures not seen since the 1980s. This will hit the rental sector hard and fast and landlords will suffer as much as tenants.
Chris Norris from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) says the best way to help landlords and prevent repossessions, “is to tackle the root cause by ensuring tenants are able to pay their rent”. We agree. Scotland and Wales have got this right and now that Parliament is sitting again, the UK government needs to pay attention. It’s time to stop landlord-bashing and give both tenants AND property owners the support they so badly need.
As Chris Norris rightly says, it is not sustainable to expect rent arrears to build indefinitely with no hope of paying them off.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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