The UK Government has confirmed that the courts will not be hearing possession cases until at least 23 August 2020, extending the stay on evictions by two months in England and Wales.
They have stated that they intend to ‘transition out’ of these measures at the end of August. It’s essential landlords voices are heard as the process for possessions is agreed.
It’s important that the Government continues to support tenants to sustain their tenancies but equally vital that landlords are able to regain possession where necessary, for example antisocial behaviour.
The Government also needs to recognise the financial impact on individual landlords of significant rent arrears pre-dating the coronavirus measures and of a further five months without payment.
The NRLA is lobbying hard on your behalf but it’s vital that individual landlords also make their voices heard by contacting your MP.
Coronavirus in Wales
Information on how coronavirus is affecting the private rented sector in Wales.
The NRLA has a five-point plan to help support the private rented sector. It is asking for:
- A clear statement from the Government re-iterating that those who can pay their rent should do. The eviction ban extension should not be used as an excuse for those with the means but who choose not to pay their rent.
- Further support for tenants most in need, to pay their rents by:
- developing government guaranteed interest free, ring-fenced loans for tenants to solely pay for all or part of their rent. The funds would be paid directly to the landlord to cover the rent due. The tenant would pay back the loans over a number of years.
- increasing the Local Housing Allowance to the 50th percentile
- converting Universal Credit advances into grants
- suspending the Shared Accommodation Rate for under 35s as called for by the Social Security Advisory Committee.
- Support for landlords who face financial hardship as a result of the impact of coronavirus by providing compensation from the Government for those who: (i) had an order to repossess a property granted by the courts at the time of lockdown but who have not been able to execute it because of the evictions moratorium; and (ii) have lost rent or incurred damage to property as a result. Where rent arrears can be clawed back, landlords should then make suitable repayments to the Government.
- The courts to prioritise repossession cases when they begin again. Priority should be given to cases where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence, possession cases which were started prior to the lockdown but were then paused, cases where rent arrears were built prior to the lockdown and instances of tenants deliberately not paying their rents despite having the means to do so.
- Clear plans to ensure courts process legitimate possession claims more swiftly. Prior to lockdown in the first quarter of 2020 the average (mean) time between claims and repossessions taking place for private landlords was 23.6 weeks. This is far too long. Reforms should include making much greater use of deciding cases electronically or through mediation. The Government had consulted on developing a housing court, however this closed in January 2019 but no response has yet been provided.
Research Provided by NRLA Data Observatory.
Why are we calling for these measures?
We know that most tenants have continued to pay rent; this has been assisted by the Government’s furlough scheme and as the measures reduce, there is a risk that tenants will build unsustainable arrears if additional support is not provided.
The NRLA commissioned research company Dynata to conduct a survey of 2,027 private rented sector tenants in England and Wales on our behalf. The research shows:
- 90% have paid their rent as usual since lockdown measures were introduced. London tenants most affected, but 80% have continued to pay full rent
- 21% have been furloughed and covered by the Govt scheme; 4% have successfully made a new application for Universal Credit
- 74% received a positive response after approaching their landlord or letting agent for support.
In addition, we know that a number of landlords are unable to regain possession, even in cases of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse or significant arrears accrued before the coronavirus restrictions. We are sharing case studies on social media and our website, as well as using them in lobbying; submit yours here.
Why should I contact my MP?
Your MP has a duty to represent you as their constituent and a letter from your MP will have more weight than individuals writing to the Secretary of State directly.
Personalised letters to your MP detailing your own experience also have more weight than standard letters sent out. It’s therefore important to include details about how you and your tenants have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak and any actions you have taken to support your tenants.
You can also seek to speak to your MP directly through their regular constituency surgery – contact your constituency office for details. These meetings are likely to be virtual due to coronavirus restrictions.
Do you have a letter template I can use?
Personalised letters have the most impact on politicians because individual stories and experiences matter. It’s essential to give your MP examples of how the policy has had an impact on your and/or your tenants and why you believe it’s important to take action.
We’ve developed an example letter which you can use to help frame your letter or email to your MP.
You can also get some tips here.
Sample Covid-19 letter to MPs
Last updated: 24/07/2020 at 10:25 - 28.34 KB
What else can I do?
We’ve heard from a number of members who are making extra effort to support their tenants during this challenging time, whether that’s by proactively contacting tenants to offer flexibility with rent payments, delivering essentials to vulnerable tenants or even arranging an online cook-along for tenants and providing them with ingredients.
If you’ve got an example of support which you’d like to share with us, you can do so below.