17 Jun 2021

Propertymark, the trade body for letting agents, has joined landlords in writing to junior housing minister Eddie Hughes to call for public cash to be used to help clear Covid-related arrears.

Propertymark says urgent action is needed because renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since the start of lockdown measures in March 2020 cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support. 

To date, measures from the government have provided some short-term relief but Propertymark says this is not enough to protect renters going forward. 

Rental debts built up during the pandemic now threaten a two-speed recovery, with millions of renters facing a lost future from long-term debt problems, and the threat of homelessness and eviction.

As support tapers down Propertymark – alongside the National Residential Landlords Association and Generation Rent, Shelter, Money Advice Trust and Step Change – want the government to take urgent action to sustain tenancies and protect renters. 

They claim action on rent debts would protect renters from negative credit ratings and keep renters in their homes, whilst ensuring rental debt does not risk families being locked out of future homes.

The cross-sector campaign reiterates calls for the introduction of an emergency financial package of grants and no-interest loans to help tenants to clear Covid-related rent arrears, minimizing the impact on agents and landlord feeling the fallout.

The organisations believe that grants should be targeted at the worst-affected tenants, with a wider programme of no-interest loans for others, such as those who have been furloughed. 

Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s policy and campaigns manager, adds: “With the furlough scheme ending in September, the government must build a bridge to recovery and provide a dedicated financial support package for the sector.

“While measures through the welfare system have been welcome, more needs to be done to alleviate Covid-related arrears and remove the risk of eviction. Propertymark has added our support to the cross-sector campaign, representing the voice of our membership.”

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