Landlords failing to help renters during Covid-19 crisis, campaign group warns

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Renters are being refused help by their landlords, Generation Rent says

London landlords are failing to help tenants struggling to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic, a campaigning group has warned.

Many people have seen their income slashed because of the virus – from furloughed staff on reduced pay, to the self-employed currently out of work.

The Government has banned evictions because of Covid-19 until late June, and asked landlords to let tenants defer payments.

But tenants will have to repay missed rent after the crisis. Ministers have asked landlords to “show compassion” in negotiating repayment.

And 60 per cent of London renters facing cash shortages who approached their landlord were told they must pay full rent, a survey by Generation Rent has found.

Generation Rent director Dan Wilson Craw warned that tenants who have seen incomes “slashed” during the pandemic have “no hope” of paying off arrears.

“Most tenants who have approached their landlord for help are getting nothing – except more dread that they’ll be evicted,” he said. “Relying on landlords’ compassion isn’t working.”

“If the government lifts restrictions without providing new protections, millions of renters will face losing their home and we will compound a public health crisis with a homelessness crisis,” he added.

Worries about eviction

Generation Rent surveyed 401 London renters. More than 60 per cent, some 249 respondents, said they are now worse off because of the pandemic.

Almost a hundred had already asked their landlord for help – but 60 per cent were told they must continue to pay their rent in full.

Less than a quarter of tenants who asked for help were offered a rent deferral, and just seven per cent had their rent reduced.

More than three quarters of London renters who’ve seen their income drop are worried about eviction – and almost half of those still on the same income are also worried, the survey found.

A Government spokesperson said legislation to stop landlords evicting tenants during the crisis will be extended if necessary.

“We are also supporting business to continue paying their staff, investing £7 billion in the welfare system and increasing Local Housing Allowance, which will help tenants pay their rent,” she said.

“We continue to urge any tenants who may be experiencing problems to contact their landlord at the earliest opportunity and for parties to reach an agreement if there are issues with payment.”

LDRS logoJessie Mathewson is the Local Democracy Reporter for the Greater London Authority. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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