Trade unions have joined the call for renters with Covid-related arrears to get cash help from the government - but they warn the government not to hand money to “millionaire landlords.”
The unions Unite, Unison, teachers’ union NEU, the GMC and communications union CWU have joined with tenant activists groups to write to the government ahead of tomorrow’s Budget.
In addition to the letter, the unions and activists have also issued a separate and more strident statement.
The letter urges the government to ban evictions on rent arrears grounds, scrap Section 21 evictions, but reserves its strongest words for the issue of compensation to landlords. A statement accompanying the letter says the government must “ensure that any financial support to help clear rent debt is targeted at landlords in real risk of financial hardship and doesn’t result in public money being handed over to millionaire landlords.”
The letter to government claims that landlords have already received significant financial support over the past 12 months. “Stamp Duty Land Tax has been slashed for new property purchases, including for buy to let investments, while the Bank of England’s base rate of 0.1 per cent has further fuelled property price rises. Buy to let landlords have been eligible for mortgage holidays, but have not been required to pass these on to tenants in the form of a rent holiday” says the letter.
But the statement says: "Handing over public money to wealthy landlords who can afford to absorb the cost of missed rent payments will only make the problems in our rigged housing system worse.”
It adds: “Government backed loans would help underwrite landlord profits but would leave renters pressured to take on massive debt repayments they can’t afford. If you can’t afford your rent, how can you afford loan repayments?”
And it goes on: “There’s nothing in the proposals for grants or loans to pay off rent debt to stop landlords taking the cash and evicting their tenants anyway. Before we start talking money, the law should be changed so people in arrears due to pandemic can't be evicted.”