Private sector tenants who are ‘falling through the gaps’ of the current benefits system and building up rent arrears must be given financial help to pay off this debt, six of the private rental sector’s leading landlord, agent, housing and poverty organisations have said today.

The National Association of Residential Landlords, Shelter, ARLA Propertymark, Crisis, Generation Rent and Citizens Advice have released a joint statement to Ministers proposing £270 million of help for renters who have lost out on income or been furloughed as a result of the pandemic.

This highly unusually alliance says the cash should only be used to support tenants who have run up arrears since Covid began in March, and that the money should include grants for those in most financial need and zero-interest loans for those who are able to repay them. It also says that, despite recent government efforts to increase housing benefit rates to cover the bottom third of private rents, for many tenants this is not enough.

Chris Norris (right), Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association, says: “Whilst the vast majority of landlords and tenants have been able to reach agreements where rent arrears have built, in some cases this has proved difficult.

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“A financial package, such as that we propose today, would greatly assist tenants and landlords to achieve what we all want, namely to sustain tenancies.”

Timothy Douglas, Policy & Campaigns Manager ARLA Propertymark, says: “It is vital that the UK Government introduce emergency measures to support those in rent arrears brought about because of Covid-19 to ensure that tenancies are maintained, and we keep the rent flowing.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, adds: “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.”

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