Rishi Sunak has made ‘landlords the scapegoats for a crisis of his own making’

The chancellor Rishi Sunak has been accused of making landlords the scapegoats for the covid-related rent debt crisis by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

The NRLA argues that Sunak has turned his back on the support the sector needs, after a new report published by the organisation outlines the toll that Covid-19 has taken on the private rented sector.

It warns that without financial support to tackle covid-related rent arrears, the chancellor is forcing landlords into a corner. They either have to accept continuing to receive no income or resort to repossessing their property with all the consequences this course of action entails for tenants.

Moreover, the majority of landlords – 60% – feel their lettings business will be negatively affected as a result of the pandemic, with 34 per cent saying their rental income has been impacted by the events of the past year.

Despite more than 90% of landlords surveyed being individuals, and almost half renting out just one or two properties, among those who had offered at least one tenant a rent-free period or allowed rent to be deferred, 58% had absorbed the losses from their savings.

To help address the crisis, the NRLA argues that the government should introduce new measures to bring housing benefit support back into line with market rents.

Government data reveals that across the UK, in February, 55 of private rented households in receipt of Universal Credit which included housing cost support had a gap between that and the rents they paid.

The average shortfall was £100 a month. Despite this, the chancellor froze local housing allowance rates in cash terms from April this year, a decision the Institute for Fiscal Studies branded “arbitrary and unfair”.

The NRLA is now calling for the local housing allowance to return, at the very least, to covering the bottom 30% of market rents in any given area, and preferably increased so that it covers average rents.

For the majority of tenants now in arrears but ineligible for benefit support, the NRLA is calling for a hardship loan scheme to help tenants pay off rent arrears built since lockdown measures started last March.

Ben Beadle

These, the NRLA argues, should be government guaranteed, interest-free and repayable as the tenants’ incomes recover following the pandemic. The measure has the support of organisations such as the debt charities, StepChange and the Money Advice Trust, and Shelter.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “The chancellor has clearly decided on a strategy of making landlords the scapegoats for a crisis of his own making.

“For less than the cost of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out Scheme’ he could provide landlords and tenants with the financial support they need to keep tenants in their homes and prevent damage to credit scores.

“Landlords want to sustain tenancies wherever possible, but without the support so many desperately need, the Chancellor will need to accept the tragic costs of his failure to act.”


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  1. Woodentop

    I do not agree in full with this story. Considering Furlough was provided and tenants on state benefits were never affected, the situation of rent arrears should have been minimal? Our experience is that covid-19 has not created a rent arrear issue for tenants unless employers did not apply for Furlough or employees/self-employed did not qualify ……. except …….


    Our main concern was the stop on taking action on tenants who do not pay the rent and has been going on for so many years, long before Covid-19 averaging 40,000 per annum in the UK. So many tenants have taken advantage of the “no possession process” when they have no reason to. That was the biggest gaff by government.

    1. A W

      I agree and disagree with your comment.

      many tenants have taken advantage of the “no possession process” when they have no reason to. That was the biggest gaff by government.” – 100% agreed.

      Considering Furlough was provided and tenants on state benefits were never affected” – what about those on 0 hour contracts? What about those on minimum wage? What about those on fixed term contracts that weren’t renewed? what about those who were made redundant? I do not agree with this nor do I think you appreciate just how much some people have been affected (that not to say all, but a huge number have been negatively impacted).

      The entire system needs an overhaul and I can’t really blame malicious tenants who’ve capitalized on the situation (ok I can but they should never have been allowed the opportunity to do so). The “fault” lies squarely with the Government and they are having landlords foot the bill for their incompetence and lack of understanding of the industry.

      Let’s put it this way, if the Government can find £849 million to pay for “eat out to help out”, then they sure as hell can find the money provide interest free loans to tenants to pay their rent. For crying out loud they found £100 million to pay for Brexit ads, then had to delay the damned thing! They are capable to remedying the situation, however they are currently choosing not to and for landlords to foot the bill.

      1. paulgbar666

        The reason they are not choosing to assist LL is because they hope this will further assist to force small LL out of business.


        Of course Govt considers it would be forcing LL out of investing rather than business!!

        There is no way Govt will do anything to assist LL in England.

        .Any English LL that doesn’t believe they are on their own is an idiot.


        Govt seeks to eradicate ALL private LL.


        Govt will do ALL it can to ensure this occurs.

        It is essentially a battle between private capital and Govt regulations.


        Govt hopes it’s pernicious regulations will beat small LL capital to force those LL out of business

        I would bet that Govt will definitely beat the small mortgaged LL.


        Mortgage free LL will be a lot harder to eradicate.

        Essentially about 50% of the PRS is resilient to the attacks of Govt as they are mortgage free.


        This really annoys Govt as they can’t do much to make mortgage free LL unviable.

        But make no mistake Govt could easily eradicate the 50% of the PRS that is mortgaged.

        First they will eradicate the roughly 25% of those LL mortgaged in their own name.

        Then they will eradicate the mortgaged small corporate LL.

        For anyone to expect Govt in anyway to assist small LL is dreaming.



        LL just have to hope that their magic money trees keep on giving!!




        1. jan - byers

          If a private LL does not like it they can sell and get out

          1. paulgbar666

            EXACTLY which is happening.


            So Govt LL eradication strategy is working.


            CV19 has been manna from heaven to further get rid of small mortgaged LL.


            This is Govt policy though not really stated.


            Govt can’t really be blamed.

            They are taking advantage of CV19 to get rid of more LL quicker than previous measures to do so.


            That is why all the entreaties to Govt to assist tenants to pay rent arrears will fall on deaf ears.


            Govt considers such rent defaulting as fantastic further pressure to force LL out of business.


            I’d say they are succeeding.


            Personally I can’t wait to sell up.


            Mind you I’ve been trying since 2015!-


            Just idiot MX preventing it


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