Major UK landlord organisations have issued calls for the government to build on its positive steps and increase support for the private rented sector through the coronavirus outbreak.
The RLA and NLA are calling for:
Efforts to help reduce costs for landlords without mortgages
Not all landlords have a mortgage and therefore will be unable to secure a buy-to-let mortgage holiday. To assist this group to work with tenants struggling to pay their rent the RLA and NLA are calling for a range of measures, including:
A recognition that all but emergency repairs and maintenance where there is a threat to the safety of tenants or the habitability of the property will be postponed until such time that normal business may resume. This would require a national policy of suspending enforcement action by councils and others, not least to prevent the spread of the virus. A piecemeal council by council approach is not sufficient.
Pausing any new payments to councils for licensing schemes.
Waiving costs charged by superior landlords for blocks of flats, such as service charges, and ground rent charges in relation to leasehold properties.
Boosting tenant incomes
Alongside this, it is vital that everything possible is done to support the incomes of tenants adversely affected by the outbreak.
With the Chancellor expected to outline measures today, the RLA and NLA are calling for a package to include:
· Scrapping the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit.
· Ensuring the housing element properly reflects rent levels.
· Paying the housing element of new UC claims directly to the landlords in both the social and private rented sectors to provide assurance that rent is covered.
In a joint statement, the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association said: “We welcome the Government's constructive engagement to date and will continue to work with them in the same spirit. Whilst measures to allow buy-to-let mortgage holidays are welcome, further action is needed.
“Everything possible needs to be done to support the incomes of tenants affected by the crisis. That means a suite of measures to ensure benefits can be paid swiftly, and that they properly cover the costs of rents.
“This needs to be matched with further measures to reduce the costs faced especially by landlords without a mortgage. This would provide them with greater flexibility to work with tenants struggling as a consequence of the virus. We recognise the concerns that many landlords and tenants will still have and are working closely with the Government to ensure they are addressed.
“In the meantime, we thank landlords who are supporting their tenants at this difficult time.”