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Claims that 2.6m private renters have missed a rent payment or expect to do so because of the coronavirus lockdown, have been called into question by the National Residential Landlords Association.
Private renters are among those most at risk of severe consequences from the crisis, said Citizen’s Advice. Being unable to pay their rent ‘leaves them at risk of eviction – and possible homelessness – once the government’s pause on possession action ends in just eight weeks, on 25 June’.
The charity is calling on the Government to fast track abolition of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, temporarily make the mandatory ‘rent arrears’ grounds for eviction discretionary, and take measures to ensure private renters are given the opportunity to make up any payments they miss as a result of coronavirus.
But the NRLA says the conclusions are ‘a long way wide of the mark’ and are ‘irresponsible’.
‘The charity appears to have extrapolated this figure from just 25 renters who said in a survey that they are behind on their rent because of coronavirus and 74 who say they expect to be behind. This comes from a generalised survey of just 2,016 adults across the whole of the UK’.
What is more, the findings are at odds with specialised survey of renters reported in The Guardian which showed that instead of 23 per cent of private renters not being able to pay their rent, only 2 per cent had missed a rent payment and only 12 per cent were struggling to pay.
‘Clearly there are many tenants facing difficult times as with all sections of the community, including landlords. ‘But speculating about serious issues based on minimal data does nothing to support or help those in need’, said NRLA policy director Chris Norris. ‘It is a crude simplification and potentially very misleading to extrapolate figures from such a small sample.
‘Whilst the overwhelming majority of tenants are continuing to pay their rents in full and on time, we continue to call for greater support for those who are struggling to pay. This should include ensuring benefits cover entirely the cost of people’s rents where they need it and scrapping the five week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit’.