Ministers are being urged to spend up to £300m helping tenants pay rent arrears to help prevent mass evictions, MPs recommend today.
The all-party Housing Communities and Local Government Committee, led by Labour MP Clive Betts, says providing funds to easing debt now would save money from supporting people who face being evicted from their homes.
Publishing a 53-page report today, it says: “Helping tenants pay their rent arrears is the simplest and most straightforward way to avoid evictions and help landlords receive income.
“The committee received an estimate that such a rent arrears relief package could potentially cost between £200m and £300m, however given the number of potential evictions it could prevent it would likely save significant expenditure on homelessness assistance.”
A ban on evictions imposed at the start of the pandemic in March last year just is due to be lifted in May.
Experts, including Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action, fear it could trigger a sharp rise in tenants who have been unable to afford their housing costs since the start of the crisis being given notice to vacate their homes.
MPs also raise concerns for landlords, some of whom have been unable to collect rent due for more than 13 months.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has welcomed the report published today by MPs on the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the private rented sector.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “We welcome today’s report which calls for a proper exit plan for the private rented sector from current restrictions.
“At the heart of that plan needs to be action to tackle rent debts built as a result of the pandemic. The Committee is right to express disappointment at the lack of a clear strategy from the Government to deal with this pressing issue.
“We whole heartedly support the Committee’s call for action to support tenants to repay rent arrears to be a top priority, including consideration of making payments direct to landlords. As the report notes, this would be the best way to sustain tenancies and help landlords receive income.”