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Graham Awards


Lettings body backs Labour call for private rents to have ‘benefit cover’

The new National Residential Landlords Association has backed calls from the Labour Mayor of London to ensure the benefits system covers the cost of private rents for those tenants adversely affected by Coronavirus.

The NRLA’s chief executive, Ben Beadle, says: “Recent polling has indicated that just two per cent of private tenants have had to stop paying rent due to the pandemic whilst 78 per cent have not had to make any changes to their living situation. This shows that the vast majority of tenancies are continuing as normal which we welcome.”

But he says that for those tenants who are struggling, by far the best solution is to ensure they are supported to prevent arrears building. 


“We therefore welcome the Mayor’s calls to increase the Local Housing Allowance. In addition, we repeat our call on the government to scrap the five week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit immediately and ensure tenants can have the housing element of the credit paid directly to their landlord if they wish.

“This would provide tenants and landlords with the confidence that rents are covered and debts will not arise.”

London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has called on the government to introduce three specific measures during the pandemic to ‘protect’ private renters.

The first is to increase welfare support for renters, suspend the Benefit Cap, restore Local Housing Allowance rates to median market rents, and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19.

Secondly, Khan wants section 8 to be made discretionary, which would mean that once the temporary suspension of court proceedings for evictions is lifted in June, agents or landlords could not evict tenants with arrears built up during the pandemic.

Thirdly, Khan has repeated his demand for an end to what he refers to as “no fault” section 21 evictions. 

“The government has failed to propose measures to ensure that the full rental costs of those affected by COVID-19 are covered. Instead, they are asking landlords and tenants to agree an ‘affordable repayment plan’ for any rental arrears that build up during the crisis. It is unrealistic to expect landlords and tenants to simply sort this out between themselves” says Khan.

“This could mean many tenants facing high rental debts which they cannot repay, leading to a spike in evictions once the temporary suspension of court processes is lifted.

“This will particularly impact Londoners on low incomes, who are already at a significant disadvantage in London’s rental market and are a greater risk of being exploited by rogue landlords and letting agents.”

  • Mark Wilson

    What will the NRLA say if the benefit cover is only provided on the back of rent control which seems likely/possible in any event? I may be wrong, but last week I thought that Sadiq Khan was the anti christ
    according to the NRLA.

    Barry X

    From many people's points of view - very much including ours as agents and/or landlords - he IS the anti-Christ, albeit a fairly toothless and feeble one and absolutely non-christian in ethics, background and beliefs.

    Once again I feel TOTALLY LET DOWN by the people who've amalgamated to be the NRLA, they have either not thought about this or if they have not bothered to firmly but loudly and clearly represent us all and defend our dwindling and always under attract rights.

    It seems perfectly obvious to me that this has virtually nothing to do with "supporting" tenants struggling to pay rent - the article concedes its probably only about 2% anyhow.

    It's REALLY all an excuse and "sweetner" and disgusise for mounting a further attack on us.... this one the old chestnut about abolishing the so-called "no-fault" s.21 that is the whole reason the Private Rental Sector even exists! Before it everyone was a sitting tenant mostly under the 1950s laws and the whole sector had stagnated and become unworkable.

    The s.21 was the SOLUTION and NOT a "problem" or remotely "unfair" or "unreasonable". For example its a sensible condition of most mortgages and insurance policies that you only rent to people via ASTs so you have the s.21 right - its VITAL.

    And even our valuable (but less valuable) s.8 is once again under attack.

    Look beyond the lies, disguises, subterfuges and "sweeteners"....

    NOTHING the "real" Labour party does ever considers us or our rights and all of it is incredibly destructive. Don't ever believe a word any of them, including the useless mayor Khan who was only elected because the demographics and background of "Londoners" - who've pretty much vanished from many/most parts of London - changed so much.

    And then there's the Tories - I call them "Labour in Tory Clothing" they hate us too, or perhaps simply don't give us a thought or care about us. They certainly show NO SIGN of understanding or genuinely caring bout the private rental sector and how landlords (especially "smaller" ones) operate, or what motivates them/us to even remain in this sector - apart from the staggering tax bill for exiting - a sort of "taxation handcuff" if ever there was one!

    The Labour-in-Tory-Clothing party have long ago adopted and been implementing all the mainstream destructive and ill-considered Labour policies in the warped and usually mistaken view that no matter how much damage t causes (to us, in particular) it doesn't matter if it helps them stay in power by fooling people to vote for them under the guise "if you like Labour you'll LOVE us!!!".

    So there it is - more political spin and lies and the NRLA has once again either not seen it or gone along with it. They do NOT truly "represent" us and are not strong enough or smart enough to firmly and resolutely speak up for us in the many ways they certainly should... a sad disgrace and it doesn't bode well for our futures.

  • icon

    “...but the benefits system is ALREADY in place for people who can’t pay private rents! No story.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 23 April 2020 10:07 AM

    The private renters are like spoilt little kids whinging and whining for sweets. The government really must do the grown up thing and be a parent to squash any unreasonable u unthinkable whinging and whining and must be held responsible for the bad decisions they made instead of us poor individuals having to spend thousands to take cases to court.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 23 April 2020 10:09 AM

    I currently have 3 tenants who are more than capable to pay their rent but due to the press n idiots who instill the delay of 3 months no rent payment, I am now in financial difficulties duties to pay mortgage n postponing mortgage means paying extra 3 months interest which we have to bear. Is there a way to pass this mortgage interest to tenants?


    As you said the tenants are a bunch of whingers and moaners when it comes to paying out. They seem to think it is their given right to have free accommodation. You can issue a notice to quit and not negotiate on that. Have you asked them if they have applied for the 80% wage coverage? How about their status enquiries made before they signed up. Look into these carefully and go back with something VERY firm with the word NO. And it's a no not ever and not a no not now. Understand the difference of these two no'sand use it to your advantage. Good luck and let us know how you get on in these columns.

    Barry X

    Another thing you can consider doing is make a Money Claim Online for their debt to you after they fail to pay as per the AST. This is something few landlords consider as they/we all tend to concentrate on specific AST-related legislation.

    Take proper advice but in my opinion (unchecked): They will have a "contractual debt" so you will be entitled to recover it, whether you are an individual or company landlord, via the "Money Claim Online" process.

    The brilliant thing is FOR FREE and WITHOUT REAL COMMITMENT you can (and should) serve them with a really tough and well written "Pre-Action Protocol" letter giving them just 30 days from service to settle their debt OR prove (using the pages and pages of forms you simply download from the government website and attach) that they GENUINELY are financially completely unable to either pay or get a loan to pay for now, and so admit the debt but need more time to pay.

    I've quite often done this over the years - and again in the last 3 months - and it usually puts the wind up their sails (provided the letter is accurate and well written and well supported with attachments to prove the rent has not been paid and the relevant contractual terms.

    If - as some do - they ignore a correctly served Pre-Action Protocol letter (formerly called a "Letter Before Action") then just go ahead and file the claim online. You'll then need to pay the court filing fee, but that's added to the debt. You are then also entitled to charge 8% (yes EIGHT PERCENT) interest, pro-rated-daily from the day stated in the tenancy each amount falls due until it is settled (one day) in full. That's a lot better - and more concerning for the tenant - than the piffling 3% allowed under the 2019 Tenant Fees Act. But done correctly I think the County Court claim will fall outside of that rule on interest because its become a contractual debt - I believe (but please independently check).

    The tenant will have 14 days to respond by either filing a defence or serving an "acknowledgement of service" to then have 28 days to file a defence. Most tenants - even apparently good ones - seem these days totally fazed by "official" (specially legal or court) paperwork and unable to read or comprehend it. Therefore they usually just worry and/or send you rude text messages or emails, none of which are important or relevant (either ignore completed - best - or if you feel like replying you MUST always use the header "Without Prejudice" so it can't be used against you in some way in court - if it ever gets that far, but probably won't).... anyhowhow, unless they file a defence (which will be interesting and usually incredibly deeply flawed and easily refuted), or serve the acknowledgement and then still file a defence, all WITHING THE TIMES SET (which almost always they won't) you then just go back on line and request a DEFAULT JUDGEMENT... very easy.... and then you have a JUDGEMENT AGAINST THEM and they have a CCJ they will find increasingly annoying and eventually want to pay/settle to have it marked as "settled" on their credit scorers.

    The smarter ones just about realise the implications and also that if they can pay within one month of the Judgement it will not appear on their "public record" so that's a big incentive for any who understand how it could affect them, even if they already have one or two CCJs for much smaller sums this will be a comparatively BIG ONE (three weeks rent) and potentially the Kiss Of Death for many things they'll want to do in the next 7 years so you may get the whole lot eventually plus 8% per day until they pay - in a way, if you're not hard up, this is nice because its wildly better interest than you can get almost anywhere else.

    And of course also serve a s.21 just after filing the online claim, or if you're daring, at the same time as the Pre-Action Protocol although that may prove unwise if the matter *really* goes to a court hearing - I'm not sure. One thing I do know from experience is that even if the tenants file a defence (usually a nonsense one easily rebutted if you studdy it carefully) it NOT normally go to a real curt hearing (but possession claims more often do) - for *money claims* like this as you are offered FREE telephone MEDIATION first (which you would be VERY wise to agree to for all sorts of reasons). This type of mediation for these type of claims can be great (usually is) and often works beautifully in your/our favour provided you simply play it calmly, accurately and plan in advance what you are willing to slightly compromise on (like payment by instalments instead of all at once, and dropping, say, £100 and maybe some of the interest as an incentive to settle "prior to court"). Each party speaks to a mediator as an independent, impartial go between and never directly so it is NOT confrontational, just very professional which is good for us not them).

    You should win, collect your money (maybe after a few months to a year or two later but with plenty of interest so who cares). AND still evict them too, AND make it clear you have balls (sorry ladies but a generic term including you too) so on departure you WILL repeat the process making a new separate claim in addition for any further sums they owe for anything on vacating the property and ending the tenancy.

    If everyone did this, and the tenants knew what was coming, I think it would happen a lot less and we professionals would be more respected and much better off!

    Hope that helps one or two landlords/agents.... please do check it all carefully before acting, but I've personally done these things - a lot of work at first until you know the ropes and have a system - but I've so far never "lost" as its always worked a treat in the end, plus its more satisfying not to be beaten or faced with writing off potentially a couple of thousand or more to some serially-cheek tenant.


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