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Government reveals rent arrears package for tenants in England

Letting agents in England with tenants in rent arrears because of Covid are to be helped via a council-run £65m rent fund.

Although announced today by the newly-renamed Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - which will provide the £65m - the scheme is to be operated by local authorities.

They will have the choice of how to administer the funding within the overall proviso that any money will be paid directly to the landlord or agent, or to a new landlord if the household is trying to find a new home.


Industry bodies including the NRLA and ARLA Propertymark have been calling for such a scheme for some months.

Housing minister Eddie Hughes says: “We have taken action throughout the pandemic to support the most vulnerable families, and it is vital we continue to provide support as we enter the winter months.

“This new funding will support families that are struggling and help to get them back on their feet as we begin to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Today’s announcement says the government is “grateful” to landlords for their support during the pandemic. 

Around 3.8m households on low incomes are in arrears with household bill including rent, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Some 950,000 are thought to be in rent arrears, 1.4m are behind on council tax bills and 1.4m are behind on electricity and gas bills, the foundation claims.

Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, says: “I am very pleased to hear the government has listened to our call to keep people in their homes and stop mass homelessness.

“It is vital that they are taking preventative action to ensure people will not be left homeless this winter.

“The end of furlough and the lift of the eviction ban have posed a very grave danger to everyday families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of Covid-19 poverty.

“This is certainly a welcome announcement, however there is £360m in rent arrears in the UK currently, so far greater action will be needed to stop a catastrophic rise in homelessness."

  • icon

    Less than £200k per council. Not going to go far is it? This looks like another Boris giveaway . His love of being loved at any cost is getting worse.

  • icon

    Why "or to a new landlord if the household is trying to find a new home". Surely the new landlord will not have arrears if they have not moved in?

  • Matthew Payne

    The funding for those that need it is always welcome of course, but as with most recent government legislation or initiatives, it is poorly thought out, practicalities ignored, so application by LAs is chaotic at best and little help actually reaches the coal face.

    As with comments above, my immediate questions on reading the media reports, were how this cash would quickly get to the tenants/landlords who desperately need it. There is no publicity on it, nothing yet on my LAs website. What is the application process, what is the criteria for selection, how long does it take? With circa £340,000 per LA, is it first come first served, will they keep some in reserve over winter, how have they evaluated how to find the 100-150 households that are in the greatest need, as this is all the funding will stretch to.

    I hope for the best but always fear another load of funding is about to be wasted or become "unaccounted" for.


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