Private Rented Housing: Students

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 18th June 2020.

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Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what financial support is in place for private landlords that have contracts with students and are now experiencing loss of income.

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

The Government has published guidance for landlords and tenants who may be affected by current events, which is available on the GOV.uk website. This guidance makes clear that tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms in their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability, and that rent levels agreed in the tenancy agreement remain legally due. The Government encourages landlords to take a pragmatic, flexible approach and have a frank and open conversation with their tenants at the earliest opportunity, to allow both parties to agree a sensible way forward.

We understand that some students are facing financial difficulties as a result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Students will have received scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year, and we understand that many universities maintain hardship funds, which can be used where necessary. The process for issuing loans for the next academic year, 2020/2021, will proceed as normal.

To support landlords who are experiencing a temporary loss of income, mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays of up to three months where this is needed due to coronavirus-related hardship, including for buy-to-let mortgages. On 2 June, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that borrowers can apply for an extension to any holiday already taken while extending the window for new applications to 31 October. Landlords should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if the payment holiday is a suitable option for them.

We have also amended the coronavirus regulations to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so. Landlords can now advertise and let properties where they are empty, or the current tenants have agreed to move. Landlords are also encouraged to contact their local authority homelessness departments or private rented sector procurement team who can discuss renting their property to a homeless household which may guarantee an income during this time.

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