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The government should clarify what the mortgage payment holiday really means, say landlords

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

15 April 2020

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Tenants have been telling landlords that they don’t need to pay their rent for at least three months during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been claimed.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) said that landlords are getting in touch to tell them that tenants aren't going to maintain their rents.

These tenants have assumed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday for affected landlords translates to an automatic rent payment holiday for tenants.

Tenants should pay their rents where possible

Because of this confusion, the NRLA has called on the government to clarify its guidance and for tenants to pay their rents where possible.

The NRLA’s chief executive, Ben Beadle, said: “The mortgage repayment holiday is only available for landlords who are struggling to make their payments because their tenants are unable to pay part or all of their rent as a direct result of the coronavirus and through no fault of their own.

“It is not an automatic payment holiday and landlords who successfully apply still have to make these payments later on. It is not a grant.”

He added: “What it does allow is that where a tenant is having genuine difficulty in meeting their rent payment because of a loss of income, landlords have much greater flexibility to agree a mutually acceptable plan with the tenant to defer the rent due.

“This is not a green light to tenants everywhere to stop paying their rent.”

There could be a housing supply crisis if no rents are paid

The association went on to warn that many landlords earn less than £20,000 gross a year from their property investments and so rely heavily on the rental income for their livelihood.

Without this rent, they may be unable to continue letting property, potentially leading to a housing supply crisis when the pandemic eases, the association said.

The government is able to help tenants replace lost income through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), increased housing support through the benefit system, and maintenance loans that continue to be paid to students. There's also the Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEIS) if tenants work for themselves.

Landlords should offer tenants flexibility

The association has called on landlords to offer as much flexibility to tenants as they are able to within their means.

It has also commended those tenants and landlords who are pulling together at this difficult time.

These joint efforts have included landlords offering properties rent-free for NHS workers, where they can afford to do so.

How have you been supporting your tenants during the coronavirus crisis? Let us know in the comments below.

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