Update: Courts reopen
Following successful lobbying by the NRLA, from Monday 21 September 2020, the courts have reopened across England and Wales. There may be some restrictions in certain areas due to local lockdown measures, and new rules around possession and court procedures apply. For more information see our blog here and 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:
- 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. This has already been introduced in Wales.
- Income support for landlords. If a tenant refuses, or is unable, to take up a loan then landlords must be able to cover arrears through grants.
We have made a joint call with Citizens Advice, Crisis, Generation Rent, Shelter and ARLA Propertymark for direct funding to support landlords and tenants.
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.
Phil became a landlord at the start of this year, after retiring from his job due to ill health. His tenant stopped paying rent at the start of February. Phil says the tenant has been receiving Universal Credit payments as normal, and has been wilfully not paying rent. Here, he explains how the ban on evictions has affected him.
Over the last few weeks a number of towns and cities have had additional lockdown measures placed on them, to control the spread of Covid-19. This week, the team received a call from a member based in one such lockdown area. They wanted to know if viewings can still go ahead in light of the local lockdown.
OVER 95% of private tenants are paying their rent or have made an arrangement with their landlord to pay less rent or defer payment during the pandemic according to a new survey of tenants out today.
We take a look at five steps to managing rent arrears.
The Shadow Housing Minister in Wales Mark Isherwood MS has called on the Welsh Government to rethink its decision to extend the possession notice period to six months, backing calls from the NRLA.
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 2,243 private rented sector tenants in England and Wales on our behalf in July 2020. The research shows:
- 87% have paid their rent as usual since lockdown measures were introduced.
- A further 8% of tenants have come to an arrangement with their landlord / letting agent such as a reduced rent, a rent-free period, or a repayment plan.
- Less than a third of all those with arrears (2% of the entire survey sample) have been served with a possession notice.
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 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.
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.