Propertymark has joined a raft of other industry organisations who are calling on the government to take more action to support those in rent arrears since the start of lockdown measures in 2020.
The trade association has written to the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes MP, to emphasise ongoing concerns over COVID-related debt, urging the government to take urgent action because renters and landlords cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support.
Rent arrears built up during COVID-19 now threaten a two-speed recovery, with millions of renters facing long-term debt problems, and the threat of homelessness and eviction.
As support tapers down, Propertymark, Generation Rent, Shelter, Money Advice Trust, NRLA and Step Change are calling on the government to do more to protect renters going forward. Action on COVID-19 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, minimising the impact on agents and landlords.
The organisations believe that grants should be targeted at the worst-affected tenants, with a wider programme for others, such as those who have been furloughed. This would work with the dynamics of recovery, with loans repaid as renters regain their financial position.
Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s Policy and Campaigns Manager, said: “With the furlough scheme ending in September, the UK 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.”