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Mystery surrounds backers of “let’s pay no rent” campaign

Three groups of rental activists have demanded the government scrap all rent payments immediately and cancel all arrears - but mystery surrounds the apparent support for their campaign.

The three groups - ACORN, Living Rent and London Renters Union - have sent the media a copy of an open letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick. 

The press release says the letter is “backed by academics, civil society and union leaders” - but it does not name them.


The letter makes the claim that “many tenants experience shortfalls in income through the furlough scheme” and says - unequivocally - that the UK economy is heading for its worst recession in 300 years.

A spokesperson for one of the groups also claims that many tenants “feel they have no choice but to break social distancing guidelines and go out to work, just so their landlords can continue to profit.” Another claims “the government’s call for landlords to be ‘compassionate’ has not worked.” 

Here is the letter in full:


Dear Mr. Jenrick, Mr. Sunak and Mr. Johnson,

For too long, our housing system has prioritised private profits of landlords over the needs of the rest of us, leading to unaffordable rents, increased insecurity, and the decimation of public housing. 

A housing system rigged in the interests of landlords and investors is now deepening the problems caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. We agree with Leilani Farha, UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, who said: “Housing has become the frontline defense against the coronavirus. Home has rarely been more of a life or death situation”. 

Tenant unions fought for and won a temporary freeze on evictions but these measures are inadequate on their own. Polling shows six in 10 renters have suffered losses to their income and many are left out of government support schemes or do not receive enough to cover rent and other essentials such as food. The Conservative 2019 manifesto pledged “a better deal for renters” but current government policy leaves renters to fend for themselves. 

Rent is still due and the government’s guidelines make it clear that landlords can issue eviction notices to renters who enter into rent debt. Huge numbers of renters are already behind on rent payments and at risk of eviction as soon as the temporary freeze on evictions is lifted. 

One survey showed the amount of rent collected by landlords down by almost half. Government inaction is causing a chaotic rent debt and evictions crisis. 

Tenant unions have collected a wealth of evidence showing that estate agents and landlords are harassing renters to continue to pay rent in full. Many renters are fearful of eviction and of getting into unmanageable debt. 

Millions of people feel enormous pressure to prioritise rent over buying food. According to recent research by the Food Foundation, 1.5m Britons have gone a whole day without food during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Many renters feel they have no choice but to break social distancing guidelines and go out to work so they can continue to pay their rent, putting themselves and others at risk of infection. Devastating rent debt will make it impossible for many to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Housing, food and medicine are essential for the collective wellbeing of our society - landlords being able to continue to receive rent payments in full is not. 

While we are told that we must all make sacrifices and that we are all in this together, millions of people are suffering just to prevent the profits of landlords from being interrupted. 

Renters across all tenures need to be protected during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We urge the government to:     

- Suspend rent immediately: no rent should be due for the duration of the crisis.

- Cancel all rent debt: arrears accumulated during the crisis should be written-off 

- Protect renters from eviction: In England and Wales, Section 21 should be abolished immediately. Across the UK, protections against eviction should be expanded so no one loses their home while they are trying to cope with Coronavirus and its aftermath.

Thousands of renters have joined tenant and community unions over the past 6 weeks. Together, we will continue to organize to protect our homes and our communities and we are ready to take further collective action if the government fails to adequately address the growing Coronavirus rent crisis.

  • James B

    freeloaders!...they expect free housing costs at landlords expense ? Are they asking for free food from Morrison’s ?
    If they pay no rent do they wish to cancel some of their furlough payments or just trouser that ?
    Homeowners get nothing for free what makes them different

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    • C S
    • 13 May 2020 08:29 AM

    The first thing I did when I was furloughed was to let my landlord know and assure him that I’ll be continuing to pay rent in full throughout this.
    Whilst it would be nice to suddenly have no bills I don’t get to live in a free house with free gas, electricity, water, Sky, broadband etc and nor does anyone with a mortgage.

    As unfortunate as circumstances may be at the moment it’s not appropriate for landlords to be vilified. They’re just people who work hard, the same as everyone else. I imagine these are the same people who would do away with their rights completely by scrapping S21’s regardless of whether this pandemic had occurred or not.

    • 13 May 2020 15:45 PM

    What an absolutely positive response from a tenant and there's me thinking every tenant was feckless.

    If only every tenant had your attitude the PRS would be a far better place.
    You are to be commended for your response as a tenant.
    I wish you were my tenant.
    The LL that has you is very fortunate indeed!!

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    Landlords have rec no help, many tenants are in a far better fananical position than tenants.
    Many will go bankrupt so less houses to rent.


    Suggest you proof read first - you idiot KM.


    What a rude person you are Retired Agent.


    Well said, John.

    Are we sure they are a "retired" agent or, more likely, an ex-agent.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    The many Tenants who are paying and making the effort need to band together against these Freeloaders who are not paying their way - as its unfair to Everybody else in society who are paying their legal committments.

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    Very simple as common sense will be used. Tenants who can pay but won’t pay will be removed. So simple and if a tenant can not understand that then they need help, but they won’t be living in My property

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    The letter states "Housing, food and medicine are essential for the collective wellbeing of our society - landlords being able to continue to receive rent payments in full is not. "
    Why single out landlords, surely all food shops including supermarkets and corner shops should supply free food, restaurants should serve their diners without reward and pharmacies supply free medication, government prescription charges should be abolished, private prescriptions should be free. I will forgo my rent when medication and food is free, until then I need the rent in order to feed myself and my family.

  • Mia M

    As someone born and raised in communism, who knows how it develops and what it brings about, I fear the worst for this country (and Europe in general). It is sad to see how a country can destroy itself so quickly. Not only am I not allowed now to get rid of the tenants in my properties, but I am expected to allow them to live there for free while I pay the mortgage, insurance, repairs, etc. (luckily I have decent tenants). At the same time, we are being used to solve the housing crisis in this country but taxed to death in the process. Never ever would I have thought I'd be in my grandparents' position, who had their land and houses taken away from them by the communists, not in my lifetime. It's scary and demoralising.

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    It would be nice to hear the NRLA (and the government) tell these freeloaders that the VAST MAJORITY of responsible tenants are paying their rent or have arranged reduced payments while their income is affected.

    I bet that those shouting for rent to be suspended are those who take from the public purse and give nothing in return.

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    I think they are internet trolls, that's all. Lets stir the pot and see how far we go.
    I've paid my rent on time and not a penny less. LL and TT are in the same boat. Rent on hold or some sort of arrangements for the ones who lost their jobs, yes, but if you're asking for free rent no matter what that's taking a p......

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    • 13 May 2020 21:18 PM

    The problem for LL is that feckless tenant attitudes severely impact upon the livelihoods of LL.

    The dysfunctional eviction process facilitates tenant fecklessness.
    This is something that few LL fully appreciated.
    With now even Govt making the already dysfunctional eviction process even more dysfunctional LL need to seriously review their business strategy.
    They are effectively being co-opted as free social housing.

    I doubt that is a viable business strategy for LL.
    The BTL business strategy really falls apart if tenants stop paying rent.
    This is what many tenants have done knowing they are protected by the increasingly dysfunctional eviction process which will be even more dysfunctional when the AST and S21 is abolished.

    The scaremongering of these groups that lots of tenants will be evicted in June just proves how ignorant they are as to actually how long it takes to evict.
    It is looking more like 18 months to 2 years before that might occur.
    That is even providing the property hasn't been repossessed by a lender!
    I doubt many LL could sustain mortgage payments for 18 months without any rent being paid.
    I suppose these feckless tenant unions must have some sort of undying faith that LL will do whatever it takes to avoid their properties from being repossessed.

    I believe many tenants will find out soon that lenders will have no scruples at all in repossessing a property where the LL hasn't been able to pay the mortgage because the tenant refused to pay rent.

    Tenants can have all the rights in the world...................not much use if all the LL have gone!!

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Of course that's right Paul, because Lenders are operating a 'pure' business, which is what most Landlords do - its just this Govt treat Private landlords like they have some kind of Social Housing obligation -
    What planet do they live on ?

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    • 14 May 2020 00:36 AM

    Yes I always notice whenever anyone is discussing the joys of property investment they always miss out the bit where for such property investments to work it requires rent to be paid.

    The mere idea that rent defaulting should be factored into the business model never seems to get raised.

    Of course they rabbit on about voids etc.
    But they NEVER mention the dysfunctional eviction process if faced with a rent defaulting tenant...............funny that!!!

    Is it perhaps that to do so would completely make many LL investments unviable!!!???

    So perhaps rather than ensuring LL have sufficient financial resilience they are more interested in pushing out product to naive LL!?

    Perhaps in light of everything that has been occurring in the PRS many LL will seriously consider their exposure to feckless tenants and severely adjust their business models.
    The results of which will invariably mean offloading rental properties and substantially deleveraging their remaining if any properties.

    This will mean a substantial reduction in LA business as few of any rental properties sold will be bought by LL.
    In my experience most rental properties are bought by upsizers and downsizers.
    Not a FTB or LL to be found!!
    The logic of amending business models is overwhelming.
    This CV19 issue has thrown into sharp relief just how financially exposed LL are to feckless tenants.
    I reckon substantial change will be occurring in the PRS which I believe will mean far fewer LL and rental properties remain.
    Rents will increase rather than reduce.
    I would have thought that these dopey rent unions would appreciate that the last thing they need to cause is having fewer LL or properties.
    What they should be stating is that by any means possible for tenants to pay their contractual rent on time and in full
    Their ability to be housed is vitally dependent on the rent being paid.
    I'm not sure tenants quite understand how things work with LL.
    I do believe that they believe most LL if not all have bottomless pits of money to subsidise their tenants feckless lifestyles.
    I bet if a lot of LL actually shared their business models with tenants that the tenants would realise how close they could be to being booted out by a lender NOT the LL as the lender quickly repossesses following 2 months mortgage default as a result of rent not being paid.
    Essentially many LL operate a just in time business model.
    WITHOUT rent that business model collapses causing severe detriment for both LL and tenant.

    Not sure tenants realise how vulnerable they are to being booted out if they DON'T pay rent.
    A lender doing the booting out!!!

    S l
    • S l
    • 14 May 2020 23:21 PM

    somebody should start advertising and shout out loud in the newspapers that landlords are selling up in droves due to the draconian one sided discriminative laws that had recently been imposed on landlords by the parliament and the local authority and the likes of shelters and rent union screaming to be freeloaders. How can the MPs be so blind. Think if these were their kids, expecting to be given a red carpet for everything, would they kow tow to them??? Beware of the lack of rental housing on the market. Time to grow up and save their money to buy their own house. No money. Tough. Get a job and stop spending like no tomorrow. Its amazing how tenants can afford to buy brand new toys, new 50 inch television that even i cant afford, air fryer, oh no, no old fashion cheap pots and pans like me. new car. I got old banger.
    Geez whizz there should be a body to investigate tenants like they do with the benefit fraudster.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Have a look at some rogue tenant trolls that have posted on my facebook page about the Possession restrictions for landlords. Feel free to wade in.

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    • 14 May 2020 23:44 PM

    Unfortunately there are still too many rental properties available.
    This is a real problem.
    There needs to be a massive reduction in rental stock before Govt takes any notice.

    It is not easy to sell up especially in the current market.
    Therefore rental stock remains liberally available.

    I just wish H2B was granted for pre-owned properties as well.
    Many LL would use such a situation to offload many rental properties.

    Quite frankly H2B buyers would receive far better value in buying second hand properties.

    They also tend to have far more scope for improvement than the rubbish rabbit hutches that builders try to pass off as houses these days
    The main impediment for FTB is not any inability to service a mortgage debt.
    It is the lack of a decent and required deposit.

    It would seem reasonable to me that Govt should assist OO with a H2B scheme for second -hand properties.
    We could even have LL selling to tenants.
    This would be a very effective way to facilitate LL offloading their no longer wanted properties as they try to leave the PRS.
    H2B for second-hand properties would also be electorally very popular.
    It also gives LL a reasonable escape route.

    I doubt the way things will be that there will be much new build being brought to market.
    Far better to invest those H2B monies in existing properties.
    it would be a far more effective policy than S24 to persuade LL to sell up.
    At least there is known to be massive affordable demand.
    It is just the slight issue of the deposit!!!
    Govt can assist this very easily by just extending H2B to existing properties..

    S l
    • S l
    • 15 May 2020 00:11 AM

    instead of encouraging freeloading, how about the govt help with deposit eg like the student loan. They still have to pay back or risk repossession. Being govt, they can also deduct automatically from the tenant who take loan from govt as deposit.
    If only these freeloader are given the ultimatum to either move out of rental and buy their own property instead of whining and whinging about prs, perhaps all this would stop!!!

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    only problem with that otherwise good idea, is Government have no desire to be in any way helpful to the PRS.
    In fact, quite the opposite, as we've seen for over 5 years or so.

    S l
    • S l
    • 15 May 2020 09:40 AM

    If someone can tell them the alternative and make the tenant be responsible for their own life like the rest of the world does, it would free the country of freeloaders and reduce the abuse of the welfare state.
    All these demands are actually abuse of the welfare system and demanding the country to feed them, to cloth them, a roof over their head. NO OTHER countries are doing that!!! to my knowledge but the world do know about UK and they are coming in droves!!! especially from Europe

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    Ok.So I can walk into Tesco and walk out without paying. Some landlords work hard to purchase properties. Not necessarily to make bags money but to provide an income in retirement Yes free loaders and commies banging on about rent free. Go and live in a field. You don't want a property..go and get a tent..be free


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