Labour’s latest suggestion for the private rental sector - a rent holiday for tenants during the Coronavirus crisis - has been slammed as “extremely unhelpful and ver divisive.”
Outgoing shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who leaves the post this coming weekend when the new Labour leader is named, says: “At a time of widespread job losses and wage cuts of at least 20 per cent, it is not unreasonable for landlords, many benefiting from a mortgage holiday, to prepare for small declines in their regular income.”
But tenant referencing and insurance supplier LegalforLandlords says this is wholly unacceptable.
“Labour’s assertion that rent should be suspended because landlords can ‘afford the decline in income’ is not only wholly untrue but the ‘us and them’ mentality is extremely unhelpful and very divisive at a time when landlords and tenants should be working together” explains managing director Sim Sekhon.
“While the financial support packages announced by the government are wide-ranging, and should prevent widespread rent defaults, there will undoubtedly be some tenants who find themselves unable to make their usual payments. Now is the time for landlords to be thinking outside the box - not just payment plans and payment holidays, but perhaps exchanging rent for labour to be carried out inside the property, like painting and decorating in exchange for one months’ rent, for example” he continues.
He says that while the current period is one for working together, there are unfortunately some unscrupulous tenants who will pay little or no notice of tenancy agreements, damaging property and leaving the landlord with huge repair bills - at a time when they can least afford it.
He says that while evictions cannot be carried out until the end of June “it’s sensible to get the wheels moving, making sure they’re top of the queue when the courts re-open.”
And he adds: “We handle hundreds of cases every year where properties have been left in an absolutely horrific state, with neighbours afraid and forced to deal with persistent anti-social behaviour, so we appreciate that there are likely to be landlords who do find themselves facing this situation within the next few months. It’s an incredibly stressful situation to have to deal with.”