We recently submitted evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee into the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness and the PRS.
Our submission has a number of recommendations and asks of Government as the PRS enters the next stage of the Coronavirus emergency. These include:
- Clarify any disinformation about rent payments, re-iterating to tenants that rent and other tenancy obligations still need to be met
- Provide guidance on the kind of payment plans that could be put into place to support tenants
- Provide clear guidance on how agents can get back to work and operate their businesses safely
- Ensure landlords and agents can get fair possession of properties where there is no realistic prospect of rent being paid. There will be a backlog of cases and courts must be supported in dealing with them.
- Not to penalise landlords for any backlog of repairs that were due to lack of access to properties and availability of contractors during the lock down. Tenants should not be entitled to hold back rent payments for failure to carry out repairs in these circumstances.
- Make empty homes available to homeless households or those at risk to help to avoid spike in homelessness once emergency arrangements expire. Many safeagents would be willing to work in partnership with Local Authorities to address this issue.
- Local Authorities should continue to delay non-urgent action as the PRS market returns to “normal”. This could entail suspending improvement notices and deferring works in default.
- Enforce mandatory CMP amongst non-compliant agents – to ensure that the risk to client funds is minimised by maximising compliance with mandatory CMP.
- Ensure that the financial help currently available is phased out cautiously and gradually to help agents’ businesses. Agents estimate that it will take around six months to get income back to sustainable levels, longer than most businesses.
- Support landlords and agents to remain in the PRS. Landlords who have availed themselves of suspended mortgage payments should not have that held against them by lenders in future dealings.