Rents: Coronavirus

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 21st April 2020.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether his Department has made an assessment of the feasibility of introducing a ban on rent increases for (a) social and (b) private rented housing for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Government have no plans to ban rent increases during the COVID-19 outbreak as we have already announced extensive measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus. Through the Coronavirus Act 2020, we have introduced legislation to delay when landlords are able to evict tenants. The legislation does this either by extending the notice period that a landlord is required to serve on a tenant to at least three months or, in some cases, creating a three months’ notice requirement where a requirement to give notice does not currently exist.  The Master of the Rolls, with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor, suspended all ongoing housing possession cases for 90 days from 27 March 2020.

All tenants remain liable for their rent and those who can afford to should continue to pay it. At the end of this period, if arrears have built up, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account the tenants’ individual circumstances. For tenants in social housing, landlords will continue to work closely with residents to help them manage their rent and ensure they can access all benefits they are entitled to.

Alongside this legislative protection, the Chancellor has put in place an unprecedented support package including support for business to pay staff salaries, as well as a strengthening of the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, income tax and VAT deferrals. And we’ve increased Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents in each area. These significant financial measures will help to support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments. We have also extended the three month mortgage payment holiday to landlords with Buy to Let mortgages whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus.

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