Mayor calls for ‘Triple Lock’ protection for London’s private renters

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is urging the Government to protect London’s three million private renters both during and after the Coronavirus pandemic by introducing three key policies to shield those affected by Covid19 from eviction.

Almost a third of Londoners rent privately – more than own a home with a mortgage – and COVID-19 has underlined the precariousness of their situation.

Many are on lower incomes, have little or no savings and may have had to reduce or stop work due to the pandemic.

This means that many households may be in a position where they cannot afford to pay their rent in the coming months.

The Government has announced some measures to support renters.

However, these will not be enough to prevent many households falling into financial hardship over the coming months and beyond.

Therefore, the Mayor is calling on the Government to urgently implement ‘Triple Lock’ protection for renters:

Immediately increase welfare support for renters, suspend the Benefit Cap, restore Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to median market rents, and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19 – including those with no recourse to public funds.

This could be achieved by setting aside LHA rates for those who are affected by COVID-19.

Once the temporary suspension of court proceedings is lifted in June, prevent private landlords from evicting tenants who have accrued arrears as a result of COVID-19.

This could be achieved by making section 8 (the arrears ground for eviction) discretionary in court proceedings.

Scrap so-called ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions. This would prevent landlords evicting tenants affected by COVID-19 using this route as an alternative to the section 8 method.

These measures would protect renters by giving them security of tenure for the duration of the crisis and would protect public health during the pandemic by making it easier for non-essential workers to decide to stay at home rather than going out to work in order to pay their rent.

This is particularly important for people on zero-hours contracts or who are self-employed, for whom little up-front financial support is available compared to employees of companies.

Sadiq Khan said:

“The Government has failed to propose measures to ensure that the full rental costs of those affected by COVID-19 are covered. Instead, they are asking landlords and tenants to agree an ‘affordable repayment plan’ for any rental arrears that build up during the crisis.

“It is unrealistic to expect landlords and tenants to simply sort this out between themselves.

“This could mean many tenants facing high rental debts which they cannot repay, leading to a spike in evictions once the temporary suspension of court processes is lifted.

“This will particularly impact Londoners on low incomes, who are already at a significant disadvantage in London’s rental market and are a greater risk of being exploited by rogue landlords and letting agents.”

Caitlin Wilkinson, Policy Manager at Generation Rent, said:

“Our homes are central to our fight against the coronavirus, but for many Londoners a secure home is simply out of reach.

“London renters are facing huge shortfalls between their benefits and their housing costs, pushing them to choose between rent and essentials such as food.

“Many simply aren’t able to pay the rent, and will be at risk of eviction and homelessness from June.

“The Government needs to step in and ensure housing benefit covers the rent, through removing benefit caps and increasing LHA.

“We know there will always be some people who can’t claim benefits, which is why the added layer of protection from eviction is so important.

“No one should face eviction, debt and homelessness in the midst of a pandemic.”

Ben Reeve-Lewis from Southwark based legal charity Safer Renting said:

“From what we are seeing on the ground, Government guidance for landlords and tenants to work together reasonably during this crisis isn’t getting through to the rogue landlord market.

“We are seeing no let-up in cases of harassment and illegal eviction.

“It’s just business as usual.

“We are still seeing people illegally evicted over rent arrears caused by loss of income, who can’t even source alternative accommodation because they can’t show they are able to pay rent.

“We continue to deal with threatened and actual illegal evictions during the crisis and it’s always about the money.

“The rogue landlord market doesn’t bother with Government guidelines.

“People need income now.

“If Government don’t introduce a brake on eviction for two months’ rent arrears under section 8, the county court will be deluged in June.

“It will create a bottle neck that will take the next year to untangle.”

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12 Comments

  1. RosBeck73

    Where is the landlords’ perspective in this article?

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    1. AgencyInsider

      PRS landlords don’t count for anything among politicians and pressure groups. Surely you know that?

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      1. RosBeck73

        Yes, but I mean why isn’t there a landlords’ perspective in this Eye article? Why nothing from an industry representative about what it would mean for landlords if rent arrears aren’t grounds for eviction? Who is to define when we come out of the pandemic – i.e. the ‘end date’? One imagines there may never technically be an end date or not for a year or two, so this would be carte blanche for tenants to not pay rent. What then happens to the landlords who also have very little savings but are forced to pay for their own housing as well as that of others – often also including utilities? Who says that an individual tenant cannot afford to pay? How is that assessed or proved and by whom? If a tenant is unable to pay, how can the Government be justified in passing a law which states that this is okay – that landlords will foot the bill – whilst the Government offers no assistance to landlords? Also, how many tenants cannot benefit from any of the Government measures put in place to replace income? What happens if tenants spend this on anything other than rent for example? What about a law which states that if a tenant uses money intended for rent on anything else that they face legal action, eg for fraudulent use of public funds? These are some of the questions which need asking and answering.

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        1. The_Maluka

          “What about a law which states that if a tenant uses money intended for rent on anything else that they face legal action, eg for fraudulent use of public funds?”

          Ros, I and many of my fellow landlords have been advocating a law such as you suggest, unfortunatly nearly all my tenants would be in court if this was implemented and there would be no time to hear eviction proceedeings!  Catch 22?

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  2. Will2

    Come on Sadiq and generation rant  put your money where your very large mouths are and just underwrite the rents. That should sort the problem and protect tenants and landlords.  Oh I forgot you are expert at spending others money on advancing you own political careers whilst bad mouthing the many thousands of decent landlords who will also be suffering hardship.

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  3. JMK

    Caitlin Wilkinson said “London renters are facing huge shortfalls between their benefits and their housing costs, pushing them to choose between rent and essentials such as food”.

    So is she saying that a roof over her head is not essential then?

    Is she demanding free food when she shops?

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  4. spin2009

    it’s not going to happen but If the government paid landlords their rental income directly (or at least 80%) tenants could stay with full security and no debt.  Maintenance Mortgage and service charges would then also be maintained. In reality a substantial amount of tenant debt will not be recoverable.

    Court judgements are worthless against tenants who through no fault of their own have no funds but will suffer further misery because of the effect of those judgements including possible bankruptcy.

    Some Non paying tenants  will enjoy long accommodation “holidays” as landlords get a court date in 2022 and a meet up with the bailiff sometime around the next full eclipse of the sun.

    Dominoes keep tumbling.

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  5. kittygirl06

    See  Mayor calls for ‘Triple Lock’ protection for London’s private renters APRIL 22, 2020|EYE CORRESPONDENT BACK TO HOMEPAGE Immediately increase welfare support for renters, suspend the Benefit Cap, restore Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to median market rents, and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19 – The above would have been the sensible approach the government should have taken. No need for evictions No need for deferred mortgage payments. It again shows government have no understanding of the rental market. It is the only time that i have agreed with G rent and Shelter on anything. Surely the government has to do this. This is what the MP committee and the Nrla should be demanding of government. Government and G rent Shelter must realise that many landlords live on the difference bet rent and mort.  If no rent they will go bust and can’t even claim U Credit.  Are not recognised as a trade so are not entitled to self employed grant. It’s about time the PRS was treated fairly instead of being screwed  

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  6. kittygirl06

    Reeve-Lewis from Southwark based legal charity Safer Renting said:
    “From what we are seeing on the ground, Government guidance for landlords and tenants to work together reasonably during this crisis isn’t getting through to the rogue landlord market.
     

    It’s not getting throu to the rogue tenant market either who are egged on by the likes of Acorn and Student unions.  These tenants could pay but choose not to knowing that landlords won’t be able to evict for months.

    These tenants far out number rogue landlords.

     

    So all the licencing money collected so called to tackle rogue landlords where did that money go?

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    1. PossessionFriendUK39

      Very well -said Kitty,

      Truth of the matter – is that the genuine tenants are liaising with their Landlords and  SHOWING  Genuine  efforts made,  and paying the majority of the rent,  which with the current Govt assistance measures, they’re capable of doing.

      Its the Band-wagon  Free-loaders that are shouting the loudest.

      If Khan doesn’t like the number of Tenants who’ve  CHOSEN  to rent  ‘  PRIVATELY ‘  –   then he should build more Council-houses.

      Put-up, or  Shut-up

      The key words in this debate are in capitals above.

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  7. LandlordsandLetting

    This is the totally useless mayor, who has presided over unprecedented knife crime in London. He’s also presided over the ludicrous Crossrail project, due in 2018, but which I’m not sure will even be ready by the end of the century.  And haven’t you noticed that politicians like Khan are always so incredibly generous…with other people’s money!

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    1. michael138

      How right you are. He has done nothing of note throughout his term of office. Loves nothing more than grandstanding about anything he thinks might earn him some extras votes. He really is the most ineffectual person for public office.

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