Personal Law

Calls for more help for renters during coronavirus

Estimated read time: 2 mins

Carrie Tennick, March 18, 2020

The government is facing calls to do more to help renters during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a nationwide address yesterday (17 March), the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a raft of measures to help businesses and homeowners weather the storm of the outbreak.

In the UK, there are currently 1,950 confirmed cases of the virus, while 71 people have died after being infected.

He declared that mortgage lenders would allow payment holidays of three months to allow homeowners to get back on their feet financially. He also announced £330 billion in loans and £20bn in other aid for businesses – including the abolition of business rates this year for more companies, including those in the hospitality sector.

However, he did not make any provisions for renters who may be financially affected by the health crisis.

Help for renters

Some MPs, trade unions and other organisations have called for greater support for renters, as well as those working in insecure employment. This includes workers in the gig economy and those on zero hours contracts.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “The government has announced a mortgage holiday for homeowners but it must suspend rents too. Millions of people rent in the UK. Suspend rents. Ban evictions. Now.”

Sunak promised that more help for renters would arrive in the coming days, but government ministers have been warned that private renters are already losing their homes as they can’t pay their rent.

SNP MP Alison Thewlis called for landlords to pass on any help they receive, saying that “people around the country are losing their tenancies and do not know whether they can get a new one”. Meanwhile Labour MP Karen Buck urged the government to put “money on the table to help people on low incomes and in insecure employment to pay their rent, so that this crisis does not mean that they also get into debt and risk losing their homes”.

Rent holidays

Renters make up a significant proportion of the country’s population. Some 36% of people rent their homes, either privately or socially. This is according to the English Housing Survey 2017-18.

According to the survey, single parents account for a higher proportion of the social rented sector (22%) than the private rented (14%) and owner-occupied (6%) sectors. But in the social rented sector, single person households are the most common (41%). This is compared with 25% of both private renters and owner-occupiers.

Housing associations are now being called on to introduce rent holidays for their tenants during the outbreak. From April, rents in these properties are expected to rise by 2.7% – but there are fears that many will no longer be able to afford their rental payments after losing work or having to self-isolate. It is more likely that housing association tenants have insecure work and will therefore suffer as a result of the outbreak.

If you are currently experiencing a landlord-tenant dispute, you could benefit from legal assistance. To find out how First4Lawyers could help, just give us a call, request a call back or make an enquiry online.

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