The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (MHCLG) has published a report urging the Government to create a coherent exit plan to help private renters tackle arrears built up during the pandemic.
The report says that repeated last-minute extensions to the evictions ban must be replaced by a coherent exit plan to help the private rented sector emerge from lockdown and to avoid a ‘debt crisis’.
The committee says that the Government will need to establish a financial support system for renters who have accumulated significant rent arrears during the pandemic.
.Clive Betts, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government committee, said “The ongoing crisis of rent arrears in the private rented sector is deeply concerning. The economic consequences of the pandemic could be long-lasting and become even more severe.”
“The ban on evictions has ensured that people remain in their homes for now, but the debt will continue to increase. Landlords, many of whom only own one or two properties, will also be struggling with a loss of income.”
“The government will have to find a solution that is workable for tenants and fair for landlords. The gravity of the situation means it should be treated just the same as other sectors of the economy and society that have a clear roadmap out of lockdown.”
“Helping tenants pay their rent arrears would come at a cost, but would ultimately prevent significant expenditure on homelessness assistance further down the line.”
Debt charity StepChange says that the report’s conclusions echo those of findings from its’ Covid Debt Rescue’ campaign, and is calling on Government to urgently put in place a package of emergency financial support to help renters keep their homes.
Richard Lane, StepChange Director of External Affairs, said “We welcome the committee’s findings which highlight that targeted financial support is badly needed to help private renters exit safely from this pandemic. Without these measures, renters face a crisis of housing insecurity, homelessness and eviction.”
“Around half a million private renters have fallen into arrears since March 2020 and many are now worried about being evicted from their home. With the expiry of the rental eviction suspension in just two months, now is the time to tackle the covid rent debt crisis with decisive solutions.”
“It’s vital ministers act on the Committee’s call for an emergency financial support package for tenants and landlords. The Committee’s favoured solution of discretionary payments can be implemented quickly, and we also see potential for a wider package of grants and no-interest loans to give renters a sustainable way to recover and to help them keep their homes.”