A campaign group is urging its members to write to landlords asking them to “suspend” rent demands until the Coronavirus crisis ends.
The London Renters Union has even created a template letter that is suggests is used by tenants to make their case.
On its website the union claims: “The government hasn’t taken any action to suspend rent payments. While landlords are being given a mortgage holiday, huge numbers of renters who are losing their incomes will soon be clocking up huge amounts of debt in rent arrears.”
It then says “Renters need to stick together and get organised” and includes the template for the letter in English and, without any explanation, in Spanish too.
Here is the English version, complete with the coaching comments to encourage renters to give personal details of their circumstances:
We're watching developments about COVID-19 very closely and are, as you might imagine, really concerned. We rely on our wages to pay our rent and we’re going to be earning much less over the coming months.
[add more details about your work/wage situation - make it as personal as you feel comfortable to.]
There are plenty of landlords who are worried about the containment of Covid-19 and are therefore allowing their tenants to suspend rent payments at this time. The advice from public health experts is that as many people as possible need to stay at home - and not go out and seek non-essential work - in order to successfully contain the virus, reduce the number of people dying and to ensure that the health service that we all rely to survive, isn’t completely overwhelmed.
Recently published Government guidelines state that as part of our “national effort” to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak it’s “important that landlords offer support and understanding to tenants who may start to see their income fluctuate” and that this should “include accept[ing] a lower level of rent”.
It also states that “where tenants have difficulty paying rent over this period, we ask that landlords do not issue a notice seeking possession, particularly given that the tenant may be sick or facing other hardship due to COVID-19”.
As you will have heard, the government has announced a three month mortgage holiday for all landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus - so that they can pass this “holiday” on to their tenants. With millions of renters across the country in a difficult position, the government and the National Residential Landlords Association are asking landlords to show compassion. For these reasons, we kindly request a suspension of payments until the situation improves.
[You should work out what you can afford to pay in rent over the next 3-6 months once you have met your basic needs such as food and medicine. You could start by offering what you can afford to pay.]
We hope, for ourselves and for everyone's sake, that life becomes more stable as soon as possible. Until then, it seems all we can do is be pragmatic, avoid panic, and support each other as best we can. We hope you can consider this.
Do let us know if speaking on the phone would be helpful.
Looking forward to hearing your response. Best wishes from us all.