News: Labour MP demands Covid rent arrears to be paid by public funds

Mon, 01 Mar 21

Labour MP Stephen Timms has asked Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to commit to five measures to tighten controls on the private rental sector.

Timms wants: 

- The Housing Act to be amended to protect renters who have lost income during the Coronavirus pandemic;

- The Renters Reform Bill to be introduced as soon as possible to stop landlords using what he calls ‘no fault evictions’ during the rest of the pandemic;

- Funding for councils to clear tenants’ debts in areas where the Local Housing Allowance is deemed inadequate;

- Support given to landlords “at a serious risk of financial hardship” - but this would only be to allow landlords to claim up to 80 per cent of income lost through arrears;

- The government to “properly resource local authority regulation of the private rental sector so they are able to help protect tenants from illegal eviction and harassment.”




Timms makes the call in a letter to Jenrick, in which he claims that over 500,000 private rental tenants are now in arrears as a result of the pandemic, which he claims has disproportionately hit renters from the ethnic minorities and poorer sections of the community. 

“At present there is no policy framework in place to deal with the growing rent arrears crisis. In the absence of any regulation, therefore, landlords are incentivised to take their tenants to court in order to claim unpaid rent. Renters are left to fend for themselves” writes Timms, who is Labour MP for the London seat of East Ham.  

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