One of the lettings sector’s biggest trade bodies is calling on government to make a clear statement to help landlords who are facing campaigns for an end to any rent payment during the Coronavirus crisis.
The newly-formed National Residential Landlords Association - the merged group coming from the National Landlords Association and the Residential Landlords Association - says “more and more” members are saying tenants are under the impression they no longer have to pay rent as a result of the pandemic.
The association is now asking government to clarify its guidance; that rents should continue to be paid where possible.
Some tenants believe that because lenders have provided the option of a three month mortgage payment holiday to landlords, they should not pay rent for this period.
Groups including the National Union of Students are also campaigning for rent breaks for tenants.
The NRLA says it believes flexibility is necessary but is demanding the government publicise its guidance that tenants must still meet their legal and contractual obligations where they can - including paying rent - to dispel any myths.
“The mortgage repayment holiday is only available for landlords who are struggling to make their payments because their tenants are unable to pay part or all of their rent as a direct result of the Coronavirus and through no fault of their own” says NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.
“It is not an automatic payment holiday and landlords who successfully apply still have to make these payments later on. It is not a grant” he continues.
“What it does allow is that where a tenant is having genuine difficulty in meeting their rent payment because of a loss of income, landlords have much greater flexibility to agree a mutually acceptable plan with the tenant to defer the rent due. This is not a green light to tenants everywhere to stop paying their rent.”
He says that given 94 per cent of private landlords rent property out as individuals and 39 per cent have reported a gross non-rental income of less than £20,000, many depend on the extra rental income for their livelihood.
The NRLA has called on landlords to show as much flexibility with tenants as they are able to within their means and has been heartened by the many stories showing tenants and landlords pulling together at this difficult time.
This has included landlords offering properties rent free for NHS workers where they afford to do so.