Housing aid organisations have come together to call for aid for renters who have fallen into arrears during the COVID-19 pandemic. The call also aims to help landlords.
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Organisations such as Shelter, Crisis and Citizens Advice have estimated that £270m is needed for tenants to continue living at their properties, and also to help landlords who have lost out on months' worth of income.
Shelter told the BBC that approximately 322,000 tenants have fallen into arrears. Their survey, conducted by YouGov, showed that 4% of private renters have fallen behind in their payments.
Organisations are proposing to receive funding in the form of grants for renters already claiming government benefits, which would be distributed by local authorities.
Chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, said that there had been a massive influx of calls from concerned renters about their housing situation. She commented, "We simply cannot afford to lurch into another devastating homelessness crisis now that will ruin countless lives and undermine the country's economic recovery."
While the eviction ban has allowed temporary relief for renters, landlords have not been receiving an income either. Organisations such as the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and ARLA Propertymark represent landlords and letting agents. They too are campaigning for government aid.
Chris Norris, the policy director for the NRLA, commented on the current rent arrears situation. He said that "the vast majority of landlords and tenants have been able to reach agreements”. However, the agreements have proved difficult, and landlords now need their incomes from tenants to resume.
Tenants, on the other hand, also need homes to live in. Norris added, "A financial package, such as that we propose today, would greatly assist tenants and landlords to achieve what we all want, namely to sustain tenancies."
The UK Government recently extended a ban on evictions in England and Wales until 20 September after calls from charities and opposition parties. They have also introduced the requirement for landlords in England to give six months' notice to tenants they wish to evict. This measure was already in place in Wales.
A spokesperson from the government told BBC the changes made to evictions would help with "supporting renters over winter", along with additional funding to the welfare system and local authorities.
However, housing charities and organisations as, well as opposing parties, reiterate that further action is needed to avoid a homelessness crisis, namely funding of £270m.
The Welsh government has already launched the Tenant Saver Loan Scheme. This is an £8m fund aimed at private sector tenants who are not on benefits, with rent arrears due to coronavirus.