Senior MPs have been told by the chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association that they must provide financial assistance to the private rental sector.
Ben Beadle - giving evidence at the Housing, Communities & Local Government Select Committee - explained that his organisation teamed up with other groups that are typically critical of landlords, such as Citizens Advice and Shelter.
This unlikely alliance was because there was a need, recognised across the rental sector, to have a package of loans or grants available for tenants with Covid-related arrears.
He also told the committee that policy changes made by the government in response to the pandemic are causing significant hardship to some landlords, in particular those whose tenants were in significant arrears pre-Covid.
He said that rather than small tweaks to policy, the government should make a solid commitment to supporting the sector to prevent greater problems from building.
“What we are lacking is a longer-term strategy to help the sector and I think the measures we have laid out with our colleagues from Crisis and Citizens Advice and others are a route to sustaining tenancies, which is what everyone wants” he told MPs.
He continued: “With the economic forecast being as it is, it's inevitable more people are not going to be able to afford to pay their rent. The focus has to be on better supporting the sector to help both landlords and tenants through this period.”
Beadle cited a research project in the early autumn showing that 97 per cent of landlords had not issued notice since the start of lockdown.
He also reiterated the NRLA’s commitment to encouraging landlords to work with their tenants to keep tenancies going and the development of the key rules, drawn up by the NRLA and included in government guidance to help landlords reach agreements with their tenants and stay out of court.