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Landlords to be helped by new Covid arrears fund

Landlords in England with tenants in rent arrears because of Covid are to be helped via a new £65m debt fund.

Although announced today by the newly-renamed Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - which will provide the £65m - the scheme is to be operated by local authorities.

They will have the choice of how to administer the funding within the overall proviso that any money will be paid directly to the landlord or agent, or to a new landlord if the household is trying to find a new home.


Industry bodies including the NRLA and ARLA Propertymark have been calling for such a scheme for some months.

Housing minister Eddie Hughes says: “We have taken action throughout the pandemic to support the most vulnerable families, and it is vital we continue to provide support as we enter the winter months.

“This new funding will support families that are struggling and help to get them back on their feet as we begin to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Today’s announcement says the government is “grateful” to landlords for their support during the pandemic. 

Around 3.8m households on low incomes are in arrears with household bill including rent, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Some 950,000 are thought to be in rent arrears, 1.4m are behind on council tax bills and 1.4m are behind on electricity and gas bills, the foundation claims.

The scheme has been welcomed by Chris Norris of the National Residential Landlords Association.

He says: “It is great news that those households worst hit by Covid related arrears may be able to access financial support. 

“However, £65m does not fully reflect the scale of the problem. NRLA analysis has put the figure of Covid rent debts at over £300m.

“With warnings that rent debts could pose a risk to the economic recovery and the Government admitting that many landlords are highly vulnerable to arrears the Chancellor must go further.”


Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, says: “I am very pleased to hear the government has listened to our call to keep people in their homes and stop mass homelessness.

“It is vital that they are taking preventative action to ensure people will not be left homeless this winter.

“The end of furlough and the lift of the eviction ban have posed a very grave danger to everyday families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of Covid-19 poverty.

“This is certainly a welcome announcement, however there is £360m in rent arrears in the UK currently, so far greater action will be needed to stop a catastrophic rise in homelessness."

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    • AQ
    • 24 October 2021 09:25 AM

    "the scheme is to be operated by local authorities."

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Theodor Cable

    How long have you got?

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    It will probably end up like discretionary housing payments where I believe 90% of the fund was returned to the government because the local authorities restrictive interpretation of how it could be paid. Often when it was paid it was paid direct to the tenants who spent it rather than pay off their rent arrears. When is the Government going to wake up to the fact that local authorities are anti-private landlord and will do their best to frustrate any attempt to improve the situation for private landlords. It was no accident that the administration of what was housing benefit was given to the DWP when it was renamed universal credit.

    Where does it say that local authorities must protect tenants against unsafe housing but do nothing to protect landlords against rogue tenants. For every bad landlord there must be thousands of rogue tenants. Why? Because the tenant's can get away with it. If a tenant is evicted for antisocial behaviour or rent arrears the local authority will rehouse them.
    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO daddy


    No they wont, thats classed as imtentionally homeless, so what do you think a landlord should apply for the rent shortfall direect & get a full check in the post, then evict them anyway, you run a business so take the hit, not use tax payers money to pay off your losses



    Who cares whether thieves are rehoused by Councils or left on the streets?

    Why not evict them anyway if they're just going to ramp up arrears again?

    Shops can ban thieves after conviction. Why can't landlords protect themselves against being robbed twice by the same rent dodgers?

    Every rent dodger evicted means a new home is available for decent tenants willing and able to pay proper rents!

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    David sorry life is not like that in my part of the world. If the tenants do not pay the rent then the council could decide that it was unaffordable and have done on many occasions and rehoused them. Oddly, it has never to my knowledge ever been said that the tenant could have paid what they could have afforded instead. The tenant has lived rent free with me for a considerable period of time and kept the rent usually paid by Universal Credit. The tenant then ends up being housed with a social landlord who is paid a lot more than I am paid to house the tenant at the taxpayers expense. David why don't you put your energy into attacking the corrupt system instead of me?

    The reason why most of my tenants are in arrears is the insane policy by the government of paying the tenants receiving universal credit the rent direct even when there is clear evidence that the tenant is not paying their rent. Why should I take the hit when the rules are there to allow me to recover this loss created by the system itself?

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy

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    Wales and Scotland have had a similar scheme for sometime so I am glad that there is now one for England. I'm not sure how tenants are supposed to find out about it and how they go about claiming it but anything that means that LLs are no longing having to carry covid debt is welcome. I hope it is used carefully so it benefits people who could pay not those who chose not to pay. Paying it direct to LLs is very welcome.


    I have seen zero evidence of this in Scotland.

  • Matthew Payne

    The funding for those that need it is always welcome of course, but as with most recent government legislation or initiatives, it is poorly thought out, practicalities ignored, so application by LAs is chaotic at best and little help actually reaches the coal face.

    As with comments above, my immediate questions on reading the media reports, were how this cash would quickly get to the tenants/landlords who desperately need it. There is no publicity on it, nothing yet on my LAs website. What is the application process, what is the criteria for selection, how long does it take? With circa £340,000 per LA, is it first come first served, will they keep some in reserve over winter, how have they evaluated how to find the 100-150 households that are in the greatest need, as this is all the funding will stretch to.

    I hope for the best but always fear another load of funding is about to be wasted or become "unaccounted" for.


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