To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will take steps to (a) write off rent arrears built up by private tenants during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) establish a facility to protect landlords' minimum amount of rental income required for basic subsistence; and if he will make a statement.
The Government has no plans to write off COVID-19 related rent arrears. During this period, tenants should continue to pay their rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Where tenants are unable to pay their rent or if rent arrears have accrued, landlords and tenants should work together to agree a suitable repayment plan. We encourage landlords to offer support and understanding to tenants who may see their income fluctuate during this period.
Our generous support package is supporting landlords by helping tenants to sustain tenancies and continue to pay their rent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comprehensive package includes a range of support for businesses to pay staff salaries, including through the furlough scheme which has now been extended to March 2021. We have also strengthened the welfare safety-net with an over £9 billion boost to the welfare system, including an extra £1 billion to increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they cover the lowest 30 per cent of market rents. For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of Government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments made available this year, an increase of £40 million from last year, which is for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.
Furthermore, where landlords do find themselves in coronavirus-related hardship, mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays of up to six months, with applications now open until 31 January 2021.