Update: Courts open with bailiff restrictions
Following successful lobbying by the NRLA, courts have reopened across England and Wales. During the national lockdown in England, there are restrictions on enforcement of possessions until at least 31 May. In Wales, restrictions are in place until the end of March and will be reviewed every three weeks. For more information see our resources section.
The Government has made changes to notice periods in England, with six months now the default for possession cases, with exceptions for cases of antisocial behaviour, domestic abuse, and arrears of six months' or more, plus Right to Rent breaches and false statements. Similar changes have also been made in Wales, with exceptions only for antisocial behaviour.
With private landlords now facing waits of up to two years to regain possession, they cannot be expected to continue to foot the bill for government failure. There must now be a plan to support households to pay their bills and to compensate landlords fully for their lost income.
We are calling for direct financial support into the sector, to support landlords and tenants who have faced arrears during the pandemic and through no fault of their own. While measures through the welfare system have been welcome, more needs to be done to alleviate Covid-related arrears, and help landlords and tenants sustain tenancies.
The NRLA is lobbying hard on your behalf but it’s vital that individual landlords also make their voices heard by contacting your MP.
The NRLA is calling for the Government to support the private rented sector through:
- Interest free, government guaranteed hardship loans for tenants. Providing tenants with a means to pay off COVID-related arrears will sustain tenancies and remove any risk of eviction as furlough is removed. These should be paid directly to landlords and should cover all arrears accumulated since the start of the pandemic. A similar scheme has already been introduced in Wales.
Tenant hardship grants through local authorities. Where the tenant is in receipt of benefits, we are calling for arrears to be covered through ring-fenced funding for councils.
Keeping LHA at 30th percentile at the minimum – and ideally raise it to cover median market rents – to help ensure tenancies can be sustained.
Suspending the Shared Accommodation Rate for under 35s for 12 months. Currently, those who are single and rely on benefits can only claim for the cost of a room in a shared property. A 12 month suspension would support those who face unemployment due to the impact of the pandemic to sustain existing tenancies and allow house moves where need be.
We have made a joint statement with 10 other organisations - The Big Issue Ride Out Recession Alliance, Crisis, Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Money Advice Trust, The Mortgage Works, Nationwide Building Society, Propertymark, StepChange Debt Charity and Shelter - calling for the Chancellor to provide direct funding to support landlords and tenants to address arrears.
We also continue to call for possession and court reform.
Coronavirus in Wales
Information on how coronavirus is affecting the private rented sector in Wales.
The HCLG select committee published its report into the impact of Covid-19 on homelessness prevention and the PRS.
The NRLA continues to call for financial support in the sector to tackle rent arrears as a result of the pandemic.
In this blog deputy campaigns and policy director Meera Chindooroy explains what this would look like for landlords and tenants, and what the NRLA is calling for.
The Government announced yesterday that both the ban on using bailiffs, and the longer notice periods for Section 21 and 8 will continue in the same form until the end of May. Senior policy officer James Wood explains what landlords need to know.
The Senedd (Welsh Parliament) has approved a Bill designed to give tenants greater security of tenure, due to come into force in Spring 2022 as part of wholescale reform to the private rented sector.
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 2,077 private rented sector tenants in England and Wales on our behalf in November 2020. The research shows:
- 88% have paid their rent as usual since lockdown measures were introduced. A further 3% agreed a reduced rent or rent free period with their landlord that they don't need to pay back.
- 7% of tenants had built up arrears - we estimate this as over 800,000 renters, with the research showing younger tenants and the self-employed are most likely to have done so.
- 18% of tenants had built up over £1000 of arrears.
Further research with NRLA members suggests that over half of landlords have lost rental income due to the impact of the pandemic.
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 can help your MP understand your concerns and convince them to support you. 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 a lobbying tool so you can write to your MP alongside some tips to help you craft a compelling message.
Members and guests only!
Your experiences during the pandemic can be used to support landlords in a number of ways. We would like to keep in touch with you about this and our campaigns teams may need to contact you to gain permission to use your story in campaign material. To ensure we can do this the share your story option is only available after registering a free account on the NRLA website.