Housing Minister Christopher Pincher has confirmed the government is not going to ban rent increases for private tenants during the coronavirus crisis.
He also announced tenants should keep paying rent unless they can show they cannot afford to do so.
The minister added tenants who have fallen into rent arrears when coronavirus financial measures end must agree an affordable repayment plan with their landlord.
“The government has no plans to ban rent increases during the COVID-19 outbreak as we have already announced extensive measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus,” said the minister in a written response to a question from Labour Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
“All tenants remain liable for their rent and those who can afford to do so should continue to pay. At the end of this period, if arrears have built up, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, considering the tenants’ individual circumstances.”
Sheerman had asked if the minister had assessed the feasibility of banning rent increases during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Chancellor has put in place an unprecedented support package including support for business to pay staff salaries, as well as a strengthening of the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, income tax and VAT deferrals. And we’ve increased Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents in each area,” explained the minister.
“We have introduced legislation to delay when landlords are able to evict tenants. The legislation does this either by extending the notice period that a landlord is required to serve on a tenant to at least three months or, in some cases, creating a three months’ notice requirement where a requirement to give notice does not currently exist. The courts have suspended all ongoing housing possession cases for 90 days from March 27, 2020.
“These significant financial measures will help to support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments. We have also extended the three-month mortgage payment holiday to landlords with buy to let mortgages whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus.”