MPs have launched an inquiry into the impact of the coronavirus on the private rental sector as landlords report that high numbers of tenants fear struggling to pay their rent over the coming months.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has issued a call for evidence to examine the effect of the pandemic and Government support for tenants as well as those who are homeless.
It said: “The Government has also introduced a number of schemes intended to support people in the private rented sector, including halting evictions for three months and raising the Local Housing Allowance rate.
“However, there are concerns about the short and long-term impact of these strategies, including the quality of accommodation and access to amenities, such as for homeless people in temporary accommodation and the exit strategy when social distancing measures are reduced.
“There are also concerns about people in the private rented sector who may build up rent arrears over the coming months and still face eviction when the three month ban expires.
“The inquiry will examine how effective the Government support has been in supporting individuals in the private rented sector or who are homeless.
“It will also look at what long term strategies will need to be put in place to support both groups in the long-term, once current measures expire.”
Submissions to the Parliamentary inquiry can be sent here: https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/122/impact-of-covid19-coronavirus-on-homelessness-and-the-private-rented-sector/
It comes amid calls from tenant groups for the Government suspend rent payments.
A poll by evictions specialist Landlord Action yesterday revealed 74% of landlords have been contacted by tenants saying they will struggle to pay their rent.
More than a third, 36%, of landlords said they would struggle to pay their mortgage if their tenant did not pay rent this month and many said they were reluctant to apply for a mortgage holiday due to the impact on their credit rating.
Despite worries about rent being paid, almost 70% of landlords who were asked if they could hold off serving an eviction notice if their tenant falls into arrears within the next three months responded yes.
The group has launched a rent repayment agreements template for landlords to buy that to set out agreed terms of repayment with their tenant. if necessary.
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, said: “It is a nightmare scenario for everyone – landlords and tenants alike.
“It is really important that landlords do what they can to sustain the tenancy if possible, bearing in mind the court system is suspended and if a tenant vacates, there is a worry the property could be empty for a while. It is about working together in a practical way, understanding each other’s limits and supporting one another as best we can to get through this.
“I know of landlords who are in a privileged enough position to be able to put a hold on their tenants’ rent and have done so.
“However, the vast majority of private landlords own one or two properties, many with mortgages, and they too will be facing the same challenges of job losses.”
See also the following story: ‘Mayor calls for ‘Triple Lock’ protection for London’s private renters’