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Tenants with Coronavirus should get three months free rent - call

An anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert says any private rented sector tenant with Coronavirus should be able to live rent-free for three months - landlords should pick up the tab.

The call has come from Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and political economist who works as an academic and has founded a range of networks campaigning for tax and economic reforms.

On his influential blog he says that Coronavirus is likely to have a profound effect - at least for the short term - on the economy, and that financial fallout will be considerable.


He says that it is unacceptable that individuals bear the financial brunt of the crisis.

“There is simply too little economic resilience within the population as a whole for that to be the case. Far too many people have too few savings to survive major periods of economic inactivity without massive prejudice to their short-term and long-term well-being” he writes.

But then he goes on to say who could and should bear the costs - and his first target group is landlords. 

“Should the epidemic spread then as a matter of statutory right any tenant should be provided with a minimum three-month rent-free period to ease the stress upon them whilst this crisis last” he says. 

“I would suggest that the grant of that extension should be automatic to anyone who does not make a due payment of rent on the required date during the period of the epidemic. They should be automatically granted this extension by the landlord without having to make any further application or to complete any additional paperwork” he adds.

Murphy is clearly aware that landlords will therefore be subject to financial loss but he makes no apology for that. 

“I am quite deliberately suggesting that they [landlords] should bear the heaviest burden of dealing with the epidemic. The reason is simple and is that whatever happens they will still have an asset at the end of this period, and no other sector can guarantee that at present” he says in his blog. 

“As a consequence they have the greatest capacity to bear this cost. And, if it so happens that some landlords do fail as a consequence, the assets that they have owned will still exist after this failure and so the economy can manage the consequences of this.”

The second sector he identifies as being able to pick up the bill for the economic cost of the virus is private banks.

You can read his blog here.

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    Does he also consider that the smaller private landlord (with perhaps only one property - sometimes even accidental) should get three months free from mortgage payments as well? Why is the assumption that they would be able to bear the burden if they don't have the rent payments inbound to cover it?

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    • 05 March 2020 08:38 AM

    My lender says two missed payments and they start repossession proceedings.

    I don't have the odd £4800 pm for 3 months to pay my mortgages!!
    So if this is enforced then I end up bankrupted and occupants homeless.
    Forbearance is all very well but not every LL has the resources to facilitate this.

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    When dogma blinds logic and fairness. So sad to see an academic allow their personal bias to override academic rigour. Utility companies will still have their assets after the virus; should they give 3 months free gas and electricity? The BBC 3 months off their licence fee? The council 3 months off council tax? Housing Associations will still have their assets and have benefitted from public grant; 3 months off for HA tenants? His defence of the harm of his argument is a nonsense.

    Then what of tenants who don’t suffer loss of income but stop paying for three months? How would that be policed? So, either total naivety on policy enforcement or a wilful transfer of funds from landlord to tenant.

    Finally, he states it is “unacceptable that individuals bear the financial brunt of the crisis.” Landlords are, in the main, individuals too. A failed individual landlord is not a failed business and a closed factory but potentially a bankrupted individual with a family.

    There are competent landlords and incompetent landlords. There are competent academics, and then...

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    What a buffoon !! Do we not already suffer enough legalised theft?

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    The reason is simple and is that whatever happens they will still have an asset at the end of this period, and no other sector can guarantee that at present.

    As a consequence they have the greatest capacity to bear this cost." - The only way this is true is if they sold their asset and this would mean eviction for the tenant.

    It's a pity they don't have a measure for stupidity!


    When they do, it should be called the Richard Murphy Scale of Stupidity!

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    This fool is clearly from the camp of Katie Hopkins. Spouting click bate rubbish just to get his reader stats up. A shameful waste of time.

    Obviously has jealousy issues with people having things he doesn't.

    • 05 March 2020 08:56 AM

    He represents the views of the Labour Party.
    They were going to expropriate LL equity and give it to tenants so that tenants could buy the LL private property at the LL expense.
    This suggestion for LL is another form of Labour Party expropriation.

    The Labour Party is a serious and existential threat to the UK economy and LL in particular.

    Remember folks to the idiotic left

    All property is theft!!!

    Pete Anaman

    Yes I can only surmise that it's the responses he's looking for in writing such an article. But far from giving credence it shows quite the opposite.

  • Mia M

    So by this logic, if the landlord contracts the virus, he/she should be allowed not to pay his/her mortgage for three months too. Or anyone who contracts the virus for that matter. After all, most of us pay a mortgage that we might not be able to afford if we do not go to work or we do not get paid. If stupidity hurt, there would be so many people walking around screaming.

  • James B

    Unbelievable.. but nothing surprises me now with landlord and agent bashing in the U.K.

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    I’ve just checked led the calendar to make sure it’s the April the 1st. The disturbed have taken over the asylum!

    PS..why not social landlords, I.e Councils and Associations too?

  • jeremy clarke

    Proof that being intelligent is not a guarantee of having common sense! Perhaps this foolish man should try not paying his mortgage for 3 months as a trial, if that works and the bank just say "no worries" then maybe he's onto something? Somehow I very much doubt that the banks will play ball!

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    This has to be the most ridiculous attack on Landlords yet!! Many Landlords rely on their rent payments to meet their mortgage commitments, if they don't pay their mortgage the property will obviously be repossessed, the tenant will be out and yet another property will be lost from the PRS.

    Additionally, if Landlords are expected to foot the bill of Coronavirus with rent free periods, agents will not earn commissions further exasperating the shortfall in incomes that they're suffering following the tenant fee ban.

    And I thought 'academics' were supposed to think before they speak!

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    In fact, what he is suggesting is that ANY tenant, irrespective of whether they have Corona or not, be given at least three months rent free (because of "stress" - give me strength!). Secondly that bank allow mortgages not to be paid for three months (extendable) - presumably to help landlords and others - with the loan period being extended. All complete nonesense of course! These academics love the sound of their own daft voices. Pour the sherry!

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    That's very generous of him - when is he sending the money through?

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Well, this is one of the most batsh*t crazy proposals I've ever heard. Apparently landlords are not considered 'individuals' and should fund a nationwide minimum 3 month rent-free period. Interesting that he doesn't think banks should do the same with mortgage payments. Maybe all businesses should also close for at least 3 months, send all staff home but continue to pay full salaries- that will solve the economic impact of this. Seriously- 85 cases in a population of 65m and not one death in the UK to date yet we are talking about this like we are in the movie Outbreak.

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    On a positive note: Any asinine ideas any of us come up with today will look absolutely brilliant next to this guy.... : )

  • Suzy OShea

    When you see the poor quality of an academic issuing such idiocy, we now know how the education system is failing everyone. And we now see how easily the country has been deceived and gulled over Brexit!

    What about a term"s free rent fees for his students? Universities are some of the richest institutions in the country.

    Furthermore, i like the way he says that the rent holiday should be automatic, presumably with no burden of proof on the tenants to provide medical certificates that they even have the Corona virus? they may just have a cold or the flu. none of these illnesses last three months, so why a three month rent holiday!

    i hope his landlord kicks him out!

    • 12 March 2020 19:41 PM

    Nobody was deceived about BrExit.
    I knew exactly why I voted NO.
    I would still vote NO!
    The NO voters knew exactly why they voted NO.

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    I only have 1 rental property. A 6 week void recently nearly crippled me due to the loss of rent and a very large mortgage that still had to be paid, so to give 3 months rent free to a tenant would be the same as having a 3 month void. That would finish most landlords off. What a crazy & ludicrous idea this man has... a complete & utter knob head, IMHO.

  • Matthew Payne

    It wont surprise anyone to learn he is a public Corbynister....close pal of him and John McDonnell. Was an advisor to the shadow cabinet on economic policy in recent years and a key contributor to Labours' fortunes at the ballot box. Long may his creativity continue!

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    • 06 March 2020 08:56 AM

    Like all socialists they love spending other people's money!!

    But remember the threat of a Labour Govt persists.
    Without the BrExit issue in the next GE Labour could attain power which is another reason I'm selling up.

    I will be invested hopefully still in letting property just not on AST where my property would be at risk of expropriation as a cheap home to buy for an occupying single household at my considerable expense.
    The risk to my finances from a nutty Labour Govt is a risk I simply cannot even begin to countenance so I intend to ensure I won't be at risk.
    When you consider the suspect intellect of these ideological idiots it makes you seriously concerned for the well-being of the UK if Labour ever attain power again.

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    Having read the comments and his replies on his blog, it is clear that this is a writer heavily influenced by extreme left wing views, a disdain for landlords and a personality issue that results in him attacking the credibility of everyone that challenges his argument with rational statements.

    He really should not be taken seriously and certainly should not be given the exposure that lettingagenttoday has provided.

  • Charlotte  Dyer

    This is ridiculous, it is down to the individual to protect their own finances in the event they fall ill such as critical illness and life insurance policies, savings etc it is not anyone else's responsibility to cover the finance element of someone else's life. One cannot assume that just because someone is a Landlord they are ''well off'' enough to suffer a rent loss.

  • Pete Anaman

    The article writer's suggestion has some merit but ultimately it's flawed. Any economic effect as a result of coronavirus is a national crisis and so the call to action in the face if it should be national. You cannot put the onus of taking action solely on one sector of the economy. And the 3 month break is a somewhat random figure. If, for instance, you turned round to all mortgage providers and said give mortgage owners who have the infection 3 months mortgage break with no recoup of the lost payments what would they say to that. I agree that the economic burden could be spread more widely following the ideal that "we are all in this together". But, unfortunately I dont see individuals or the masses following this notion. Hence we already have people hoarding unnecessarily as the "I'm alright jack" attitude kicks in down at the supermarkets! I'd like to see the Government lead the way on what WE as a nation can do both in charitably sensible terms and in business economic strategy. Either we are a community or not, don't be hanging out one sector of the nation out to dry!

  • Clifford Matthews

    Totally biased proposal, obviously the writer is not a LL. Yet another thoughtless pitch !

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    I really can't be bothered to even respond to this sort of rubbish. My son will shortly be deciding which University he'll be going to and it won't be one where this person works.

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    He is an absolute buffoon and a communist to boot! It is nothing more than theft. His ludicrous argument (by the way I am also an academic having attained a masters degree) underpins the right of thieving as one could rightly argue than any business has assets. Why not just steal goods from shops are not their merchandise assets?

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    • 12 March 2020 19:48 PM

    Unfortunately it is alleged academics like this idiot that are brainwashing Uni students into becoming snowflakes.
    He is representative of many so called academics that populate the Further Education sector.
    They are using their positions to force their ridiculous left-wing ideology on impressionable minds.
    A left-wing academic is an oxymoron.
    Can't exist!!

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    Does Coronavirus always last 3 months then? News to me.
    But the mortgage needs paying for those months.
    If the landlord gets Coronavirus and can't work, should tenants be expected to pay double for 3 months to support the landlord?

  • Richard Law

    It’s a half baked idea but I think he is partly right. We have to help our tenants out as much as we can. Definitely those that are mortgage free Landlords. Most decent and smart landlords should have built a good cash reserve into the business to prepare for things going wrong. Obviously, no one was prepared for this, but what you can afford to do, you should do it. Maybe now is the time to clean up the image of landlords. I’m gonna do all that I can to help my tenants.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Thing is Richard, the genuine Tenants won't I think have a problem with getting a few months behind but then showing immediate steps towards a repayment plan. No different to any other rent arrears by 'Genuine tenants previously experiences of rent arrears.'
    We know however, that the Bad tenants will 'seize upon the Corona' as just another wheeze to get out of paying what they owe.
    Discerning between the two groups of tenants isn't going to be easy, or certainly not easy to convince a court, in current Corona -fear climate.

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    I'm in the middle of trying to evict a subletter and his family. 2 months in arrears and obtained the property by the (true) tenant using false documents. I find it outrageous that the law may change to delay or abort this eviction under Section 8. Why don't we all then just rent anywhere fancy in Mayfair or Chelsea and not pay the rent for 3 months, ooh I'm struggling. I rely on the rent from this property as my work (due to Coronavirus) has all but dried up!
    Not all landlords are super rich and have 6 or 7 properties and rent insurance. Not all tenants are honest and struggling with coronavirus. So why the communist USSR thinking?

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    I am a LL of 1 property and no mortgage. I use rent money as my income so I cannot claim benefits. Yes I may have an asset at the end of all this, but i worked bloody hard for it. So how and who is going to support me when my monthly income goes?

  • John  Blease

    Similar situation to you, Pat Maher.
    My tenant contacted me yesterday.
    She works for the NHS.
    Uses public transport to get to work.
    She now has to use taxis and on occasions stay in a B and B close to the hospital
    She has asked me if I can reduce the rent she pays.
    I have agreed on the condition that my outgoings on the apartment are covered.
    These amount to about £125 (Service charge, ground rent, grounds maintenance etc).
    She has agreed to this.
    The consequence to me is that my income will be down £500 per month.
    Contacted my letting agent this morning.
    They have said they must still be paid the full 10% of the normal monthly rent.
    I have not contacted the apartment management company yet, but I suspect that the response will be the same as the letting agents.
    Great to know that we are all in this together !


    Get another agent - fast! Check their contract with you - it probably says 10% of monthly rent received so they get 10% of whatever rent you get. Otherwise they could still charge you even if the tenant stops payng.

    Matthew Payne

    I would check their terms, unless they have a very unusual set having read 100s of sets over the years, lettings agents terms normally say its a % of the gross rent or something similar, in fact I have never seen a set that say its a % of the intial rent or normal rent even if it changes, so this would be a first. I am sure if you had a rent review that triggered an increase they would change their tune.


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