Support, Advice and Experience within the Property Market

COVID-related rent arrears campaign

From Robert Ulph on February 26, 2021

On March 3, the Chancellor will be announcing the Government’s second Spring Budget and in a joint statement with other industry leading organisations, Propertymark continues to highlight the need for Government to provide much-needed financial support to both landlords and renters effected by the pandemic.

At least half a million private renters are in arrears due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the 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.

Propertymark states that they welcome many of the measures taken to date, which have helped to sustain tenancies in the short term. But they worry that 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.

Joining with organisations that share the aim of sustaining tenancies wherever possible, Propertymark proposes 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, 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.

The joint organisations 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.

In addition, Propertymark continues to focus on campaigning for Government support for COVID-related rent arrears in England in order to #keeptherentflowing. The latest message from ARLA Propertymark President Angela Davey, outlines the measures that should be put in place, the campaign’s serious concerns about landlords exiting the sector and Propertymark is asking its members to join the campaign by contacting MPs and referencing cases in their area.

I will continue to work with Propertymark in their work I will keep you updated with progress and policy changes. As always, if you have any questions on these issues or anything in the local property market, please call me.