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Government must protect people ‘who have fallen into arrears’

With the Coronavirus crisis widely expected to lead to a rise in rent arrears as many tenants face financial hardship, Citizens Advice is calling on the government to do more to help people desperately in need. 

Research by housing charity Shelter suggests that one in five renters in England are likely to lose their job within the next three months, while Citizens Advice has estimated that around 2.6 million tenants are expected to fall behind on their rent because of coronavirus.

The government has paused eviction proceedings until 25 June and has also temporarily extended notice periods for some tenancy types to three months. But it is not yet clear what, if any, alternative measures will be put in place post 25 June, and as a consequence, Citizens Advice is telling people who are struggling to pay their rent to get in touch with their landlord and try to negotiate a reduction. 


They are also being advised to try and arrange for any arrears to be paid back over a manageable period and keep a note of discussions.

The organisation also suggested exploring options for increasing income, such as making claims for benefits or other financial support introduced by the government to help ease the financial impact of the pandemic.

Citizens Advice’s principal policy manager, Joe Lane, commented: “What we want the government to do is make sure there are protections for people who have fallen into arrears due to coronavirus, and also take steps to make sure landlords have to put in place things like affordable repayment plans and make sure the requirement to work with renters has some teeth.”

But the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) recently criticised Citizens Advice for over-egging rental default levels due to coronavirus. 

The landlord association says that Citizens Advice’s claims that 2.6 million renters have missed a rent payment, or expect to do so, as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, are a long way wide of the mark and irresponsible. 

The association points out that Citizens Advice appears to have extrapolated this figure from just 25 renters who said in a survey that they are behind on their rent because of coronavirus and 74 who say they expect to be behind. This comes from a generalised survey of just 2,016 adults across the whole of the UK.

Chris Norris, policy director for the NRLA, commented: “Clearly there are many tenants facing difficult times as with all sections of the community, including landlords, but speculating about serious issues based on minimal data does nothing to support or help those in need.

“It is a crude simplification and potentially very misleading to extrapolate figures from such a small sample.

“Whilst the overwhelming majority of tenants are continuing to pay their rents in full and on time, we continue to call for greater support for those who are struggling to pay. 

“This should include ensuring benefits cover entirely the cost of people’s rents where they need it and scrapping the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit.”

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    Protect them by giving them, ideally, loans, but *not* by making that protection at landlords’ expense!!

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    • 01 June 2020 09:59 AM

    I cannot wait for 25th to get going on these tenants of mine who have 2 months default - NOT ONE PENNY!

    The have been warned as well, and I have done all the paperwork. Sod them. They have actually stolen money from me. Where are the Police when I need them.

    We need the Australian system when when we are back on track, where the police pay the tenants a visit and if they have not paid and the police "escort" them if they don't pay up there and then.

    Roll on JUNE

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    I assume that David Crisp's comments above are not serious and that he's actually not like that ….. even if his tenants are behind on their rent. 'They have been warned'? 'Sod them.'? 'Not one penny!' Oh dear...……… Maybe it's the tenants who need warning ………...

    (BTW: How can the Police pay a visit? - non-payment of rent is a civil matter, not a criminal matter.)


    Non payment of rent is a civil matter, drive away from a petrol station without paying is a criminal matter, both theft so why the difference?


    Of course they are serious. Your comment ref the Police I think you had better read the note from DC and you may even realise that you have opened mouth and inserted foot. The suggestion is we need the Australian system..........!


    I take the same view as David. All of his comments are both accurate and fair. Why is it expected, or even assumed a landlord has to joint this (Londoon-centric) community spiritedness?

    Four walls/roof in exchange for payment. No tea and biscuits, just that at its most simplest.

    • 01 June 2020 10:28 AM

    I mean it 120%
    They have morally stolen money from me.
    No pay, then away you go. No debate.

    I know the Police do not evict in UK....and I know non payment is a civil matter. I was saying the law in the UK should be changed to the Australian system.

    It is much fairer. And anyway, because of the Aussie rules there are hardly any evictions...Completely the opposite to the UK.

    We never learn.

    It frees up the courts too.

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    • 01 June 2020 10:23 AM

    Yes...that is why we should change it to the Aussie system. Here the law does not regard theft a crime!!!!

    Remarkable there is hardy any evictions in Australia.
    I wonder why?

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    • 01 June 2020 10:30 AM

    The Police wont even attend a burglary these days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You work that out!


    I have a theory about reduced resources and the ‘normal’ way of focussing depleted funds/manpower on the biggest, most serious crime, such as murder. It affects so few people, so little if the time, perhaps, instead of ignoring ‘lesser‘ crimes such as burglary, we should target everything *but* the most serious crimes (that affect more of the people, more of the time). Obviously, in a perfect-world, we‘d tackle both, but we’re starting from a point of some things having to give. Not only would satisfaction rates increase massively, but it would likely have the knock-on effect of cutting down the more serious crimes through either escalation, recklessness or extended opportunity. The petty criminal doesn’t continue to increase either his frequency or bravery into more serious offences, the burglar isn’t able to end up wrangling with the homeowner, accidentally, but recklessly, killing them and everyone knows these ‘lesser’ offences don’t go uninvestigated, so aren’t tempted to go further than they planned.

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    Regarding Andrew Townhend's comment i.e. 'what's the difference?'
    The difference is:
    Theft (e.g. driving away from a petrol station without paying) is a criminal offence. Plain and simple.
    Non-payment of rent is the breaking of a signed agreement between two parties, so it is not a criminal offence. So a civil court must rule on this. And if the landlord has kept to his/her obligations as in the signed agreement and in law (this may need to be checked) , they should always get a court ruling in their favour.
    And that's exactly the way it should be. Fair on both parties and fair to what they have signed up to.


    Completely disagree. In America and Australia the Police will assist with the eviction. In my experience the rent gets paid and rents stay low because it gets competitive. You go to the cinema you don’t like the film do you get your money back? No You go to a hotel then don’t pay your bill. What happens?


    No David that is not the way it should be and it is not fair on both parties.

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    • 01 June 2020 10:48 AM

    So it is Ok to not pay for a service? Just a physical item can be considered a crime?

    Ok...In that case, I will not pay my lawyer, doctor, teacher, nurse, car parking, dustmen, council tax etc. etc....

    I rather like that idea. I will however avoid jewellery and cars, though. I might also not pay my politicians!!! And Fireman, and Ambulances.

    I see you think by your last sentence that is fair on both parties, but I am sure I did not agree with my tenants that the tenants does not have to pay. In fact, contractually, the opposite I remember.

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    No, it's nothing to do with whether it's a service or a physical item. If you just take something without paying, it's theft. If you break an agreement, i.e. tenancy agreement which involves an obligation to make regular payments - or any kind of signed agreement - , then it's a civil matter.

    No-one pays fire fighters, ambulance people, refuge collectors, nurses directly, so that's really a red herring.

    Of course you did not agree with your tenants that they don't have to pay. But the civil court does have to check that you've complied with the law and the agreement yourself before issuing judgement against the tenant. For example - if you've harassed them - if you've entered your rented property without your tenants' permission - if you've not repaired their loo - it's only fair the court sees the whole picture relating to the tenancy before judging.
    But clearly this all would not apply if stealing petrol or walking out of a supermarket without paying. That's theft plain and simple.

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    So let’s say I stole a loaf of bread because I felt let down from the milk that I bought earlier in the week to compensate. How far do we go with this argument which is why the rent should be paid. The tenant should take action in the event of non service but not use non payment as a tool otherwise there will be no PRS

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    • 01 June 2020 11:36 AM

    To not comply with an agreement that you sign with someone has a very strong moral issue behind it.
    If there was no morality amongst the vast majority of tenants and landlords, then no one would pay anything to anyone.

    These people are just chancers, crooks and thieves. Full stop.
    And I will use all my recourses and cash to make them suffer for their fecklessness - whatever their circumstances.

    I am NOT a charity nor a benefactor, nor rich. I deserve to get paid the amount agreed on the day agreed as signed and morally. If they know they cannot pay, them morally too, they should leave immediately themselves.

    Wish we could go back to times when even a day or two of default, would mean I could go into the house and literally and physically throw them out with their belongings into the street.....How much leas hassle and lost money would that be?

    Oh - What Happy Days they were.


    You show exactly why we need the courts, as it is I know many Landlords who have told me they ignore the laws as it currently stands, ie they still send in the heavies.

    Once in the UK you went to jail for being in debt and if could repay ie debtors prisons, maybe that could be you one day, this is still the law in many arabic countries

    You sound like a total tool and should not be a Landlord as all

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    If you stole bread for any reason, then it's theft. If you were not happy with last week's milk purchase then you speak with the shopkeeper just about that, not just steal.
    Solicitors always advise tenants who have a complaint against their landlord to keeping paying rent. Courts won't take kindly to them if they don't. But any complaints against landlords should still always be heard. If non-payment is due to sudden unemployment, etc., then the court will always view a landlord favourably if he/she has taken a sympathetic stance (discussion on financial circumstances, maybe an offer to defer/delay payment, maybe 50% now, 50% later) - but if the landlord's position is simply 'Every Last Penny Now', no discussion, then the court will of course note this.

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    The Government MUST protect the tenants by offering them loans and then discuss repayment terms and interest with the tenants. Why should it be the landlord who has to go without rent and hence face hardship?

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    • 01 June 2020 12:40 PM

    Quite agree...But Government does not historically pay people's rents!!!! And with a lot of these people, they will never be able to repay any kind of loan.

    They will rather head on down to the Pub or Bingo Hall.....than pay Boris any cash!!!!!!!

    And I assume that any loan for their rent should be paid direct to the landlord and NOT, I say NOT to the tenant..........


    Oh thats right every renter has no money becasue they buy Avacado toast, yawn

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    The fair way is to have Tenants who HAVE been affected, to apply to the DWP ( U.C ) for any necessary top-up to their outstanding rent to prevent eviction.
    The rental burden Can NOT be transferred to private individuals who are Not responsible for the Countries social security by default.
    Rent arrears don't affect every tenant and affect only some, partially. Its for the Tenant to prove to the Govt that their shortfall is justified for part supported payment.
    Tenants are forgetting that rent is no different a financial liability than any other necessary living expense ( i.e Shopping at the supermarket ) I wonder how many tenants have cancelled luxury Sky package or Netflix subscriptions ?
    The Govt - U.C would need to look at issues like this when determining any claim for Tax-payers money.
    Yes help genuine tenants, ( not the ones that were in default BEFORE Covid ! ) but meet them half-way, what have they cut back on ?


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