Chancellor urged to get a grip of the rent debt crisis

The chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to do more to address the growing rent crisis.

The following joint statement has been issued by The Big Issue Ride Out Recession Alliance, Crisis, Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Money Advice Trust, The Mortgage Works, National Residential Landlords Association, Nationwide Building Society, Propertymark, StepChange Debt Charity and Shelter:

‘At least half a million private renters are in arrears due to the economic impact of Covid-19. The UK government’s own research shows that ‘private renters report being hardest hit by the pandemic’.

‘Renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since lockdown cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support.

‘We welcome many of the measures taken to date, which have helped to sustain tenancies in the short term. But they do not go far enough to adequately protect renters going forward.

‘The longer the chancellor waits to take action, the more rent debts will increase, and the greater the risk of homelessness will become. Without additional support, more renters will lose their homes in the coming months, with the risk of an increase in homelessness.

‘As organisations with the aim of sustaining tenancies wherever possible we consider that this requires two things in the forthcoming Budget.

‘First, a targeted financial package to help renters pay off arrears built since lockdown measures started in March last year. This will help to sustain existing tenancies and keep renters in their homes – whilst also ensuring rental debt does not risk them finding homes in the future.

‘Secondly, we need a welfare system that provides renters with the security of knowing that they can afford their homes. The pandemic has shown how vital this is to providing security at a time of crisis. The government increased Universal Credit and Housing Benefit because it recognised that the system was not doing enough to support people in the first place, yet it has chosen to freeze Housing Benefit rates again from April and is considering cutting Universal Credit at the same time. It cannot be right that these measures could be pulled away from renters during continued economic uncertainty.

‘We urge the chancellor to act now to avoid renters being scarred by debts they have no hope of clearing and a wave of people having to leave their homes in the weeks and months to come.’


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  1. RosBeck73

    A few issues:
    1. They don’t explicitly demand the arrears be paid directly to the landlord. If the money was paid to the tenants so that they could ‘manage their own finances’ it would be shambolic – they could spend it on whatever they liked while the arrears remained and grew.
    2. What about the tenants who weren’t paying anyway and whose debt has nothing to do with the pandemic? Why are they not mentioned? Why should they be bailed out by decent tax-payers? On the other hand, much of this debt is nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with the Government’s outrageous attack on landlords’ rights to possession during the pandemic and almost undoubtedly beyond. They have forced many landlords into financial ruin while the tenants enjoy a prolonged, rent-free stay.
    3. Many renters have done the right thing and paid even though it was a struggle – they get nothing for free and this will feel like a kick in the teeth.
    4. Lastly, what about the tenants who won’t make the claim – whether out of malice of laziness? It is the landlord who loses out; so they should have some power to make the claim.
    And I say all this, despite having been the first person in the UK to advocate for tenancy loans rather than push for landlords having to bail out their tenants by taking on further mortgage debt (misnamed ‘mortgage holidays’) – which had been the previous approach.
    I’m  just saying that t’s not as simple as it sounds, once you get into the details of how it would work and also the ethics and fairness of it.

  2. Woodentop

    Its a time bomb of nuclear proportions.  
    Time for yet another Housing Minister scalp.
    NRLA are quoted today as saying research shows that 1 in 3 private landlords are looking to sell in 2021linked to Covid, suspension of possession process and mounting rent arrears. 

  3. PossessionFriendUK39

    Look at the article on our  face book page, –  The Govt have legislated for Debtors to wipe off All or most of their debt to  pretty much anyone (  apart from Council Tax or HMRC –  funnily enough ! )  via the Debt Breathing Space  Moratoriums.

    Much cheaper and easier for Gov to make Creditors carry the loss and share out the burden  !!!

  4. paulgbar666

    Even before the CV19 pandemic hit feckless rent defaulting tenants were causing over £9 billion of losses to LL annually. The existing repossession and civil recovery processes were already extremely dysfunctional. The latest retrograde Govt policies have made the already bad situation even worse.   The law effectively facilitates feckless tenants to ponce off LL with very little effects on them. When you have such a system which effectively allows a service user to get away with paying for the service while still consuming it; it makes a mockery of the business model of the service provider.   Why would anyone bother to be such a service provider!? Supermarkets wouldn’t be in business long if consumers were permitted to take groceries without paying for it.   Govt for political expediency has determined to expropriate the private resources of LL to facilitate free housing for those who can no longer afford to rent where they are.   Surely such expropriation was entirely unexpected though effectively this already occurred with the dysfunctional repossession process. Now such expropriation is enshrined in law with eviction being actually banned!!   Any LL must surely consider that Govt could again impose measures which again would leave tenants poncing off LL.   There is no point in a LL building up cash assets if at some possible stage in future Govt in response to events will again expropriate private LL resources to house feckless rent defaulting tenants. If LL have been putting aside liquid assets for sudden business shocks like a boiler replacement why is it not expected that tenants should make provision for sudden income loss!?   Traditionally called savings. Why should the service provider be expected to be responsible in having sufficient liquid assets to support provision of free housing to feckless tenants!? Given such circumstances it makes no business sense in this case to be a LL!! Many LL I’m sure will see how ludicrous this is as a business and sell up. I’m sure all these circumstances cannot have escaped the attention of BTL lenders who will surely require in future far more provable resilience to such bonkers Govt measures. Easiest way to achieve that is substantially reduce LTV lending. So perhaps no more than 50% LTV. Such a measure would effectively kill off BTL which perhaps would be no bad thing.   BTL has become far riskier. For a more resilient PRS; needed because Govt supports feckless tenants perhaps the PRS needs to revert to fewer properties with zero or very low LTV debt. It will make the next time Govt sponsors tenants to be able to ponce of their LL far less costly for those LL forced into providing the free accommodation. At least LL will be able to hang onto their reduced number of properties a lot easier than is the case now.   I guess we shall find out how LL react when they are able to eventually repossess. But that could be 2 years away!!        


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