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A clear statement is needed from Government in response to campaigners’ calls for rent payments to be stopped during the coronavirus crisis, said the National Landlord Knowledges Association this week.
It has logged ‘more and more’ landlord calls saying their tenants are under the impression they no longer have to pay rent as a result of the national lockdown. It is clear there needs to be more clarity in guidance on rents, making clear that these should continue to be paid where possible.
‘Some tenants believe that because lenders have provided the option of a three-month mortgage payment holiday to landlords, they should not pay rent for this period’, said the NRLA.
Groups including the National Union of Students are campaigning for rent breaks for all tenants, it has pointed out.
‘While the NRLA believes flexibility is necessary during these unprecedented times, it is calling on the Government to better publicise its guidance that tenants must still meet their legal and contractual obligations where they can – including paying rent – to dispel any myths’.
The response to the Coronavirus does not give tenants a green light to stop paying rent, said NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.
‘The mortgage repayment holiday is only available for landlords who are struggling to make their payments because their tenants are unable to pay part or all of their rent as a direct result of the coronavirus and through no fault of their own. It is not an automatic payment holiday and landlords who successfully apply still have to make these payments later on. It is not a grant.
‘What it does allow is that where a tenant is having genuine difficulty in meeting their rent payment because of a loss of income, landlords have much greater flexibility to agree a mutually acceptable plan with the tenant to defer the rent due’.
The NRLA points out that 94 per cent of private landlords rent property as individuals and 39 per cent reported a gross income of less than £20,000. Many depend on the extra rental income for their livelihood. Without a rental income many would be unable to continue letting property, leading to a housing supply crisis when the epidemic eases, it said.
The NRLA has called on landlords to show as much flexibility with tenants as they are able to within their means. It said it has been ‘heartened by the many stories showing tenants and landlords pulling together at this difficult time’.