The government should provide interest-free loans to private tenants who face “a cliff edge” as the end of holidays coincides with cuts in support benefits, according to the National Residential Landlords Association.
The proportion of private tenants in arrears has tripled to 9%, from 3% from 2019/20 to the end of last year according to government data, according to an NRLA report.
The government’s holiday program will end on October 1 and coincide with a £ 20-a-week reduction in universal credit and a continued freeze on housing benefits, which the agency says will mean “many more tenants are at risk of ‘accumulate unsustainable debts “.
The association called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide government-guaranteed interest-free hardship loans to support the majority of tenants with Covid-related rent debts who are not eligible for benefit assistance.
He indicates that similar programs have already been adopted in Scotland and Wales.
The organization is also calling on the government to abandon plans to cut universal credit payments “to avoid potentially devastating consequences for tenants across the country.”
There are 1.6 million people on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or leave, according to HMRC data released earlier this month.
The association says homeowners should not be left alone to deal with this potentially significant increase in arrears.
NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle said: “Many tenants and landlords have struggled to cope during the pandemic, leaving them exposed to the impact of rent debts which they will likely never pay off.
“By ending holidays and cutting benefits quickly, and without the introduction of a targeted package to tackle the rent debt linked to Covid0, the government is worsening an already critical situation.
“Without transitional support, and as the country returns to normal, the Chancellor will turn his back on tenants and landlords who desperately need help.”