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28 August, 2020 Open access

Landlords, letting agents and charities call for emergency £270 million package of grants and loans to help private renters with COVID-19 related rent arrears stay in their homes

With ban on evictions in England and Wales ending on 20 September 2020, opportunity to help renters most in need 'must not be missed', says Shelter Chief Executive

A coalition of landlords, letting agents and charities has called for the government to introduce an emergency £270 million package of grants and loans to help private renters with coronavirus (COVID-19) related rent arrears stay in their homes.

With the stay on possession proceedings in England and Wales due to end on 20 September 2020, the coalition - which includes Shelter, the National Residential Landlords Association, ARLA Propertymark, Crisis, Citizens Advice and Generation Rent - says that, despite recent government efforts to increase housing benefit rates to cover the bottom third of private rents, thousands are still falling through the gaps in the welfare safety net.

Highlighting that research carried out by Shelter and YouGov last week indicates that 322,000 adult private renters who were not in arrears prior to the pandemic have since fallen behind on their rent, the coalition urges the government to help tenants keep their homes, and to help landlords who rely on rental income for their livelihoods, by creating a short-term emergency fund of £270 million to provide financial assistance in the form of -

Commenting on the need for the new fund, Shelter Chief Executive Polly Neate said -

'Ever since this pandemic gripped hold of the country, causing chaos for hundreds of thousands of renters, our services have been deluged with calls from worried families and workers plunged unexpectedly into debt. When the ban lifts, their ability to clear COVID-arrears will be critical if they are to stay safe in their homes.

We simply cannot afford to lurch into another devastating homelessness crisis now that will ruin countless lives and undermine the country’s economic recovery. This one-off opportunity to provide emergency relief to those renters most in need must not be missed.'

For more information, see Landlords, letting agents and charities urge the government to help renters clear COVID-19 rent debts and stay in their homes from shelter.org.uk