Agents’ anger that Budget didn’t offer cash help for rental sector

4 March 2021 | Renting

Agents’ anger that Budget didn’t offer cash help for rental sector

The Association of Residential Letting Agents says it’s disappointed the Budget failed to address the funding of the private rental sector. 

“Extending the increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance and the furlough scheme until September will help tenants plan ahead but much more is required to avoid a mounting crisis in the private rented sector” explains Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager for Propertymark. 

He continues: “As the impact of Covid continues to bite and unemployment rates rise, we are increasingly concerned about how tenants will avoid future rent arrears and landlords will remain incentivised to stay in the rental market. There is a real need for the UK government to ensure a wider package of measures to help tenants and landlords keep the rent flowing.”

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ARLA and other rental sector bodies, including tenant and landlord groups, have in the recent past called for financial assistance to renters in England who have run up Covid-related arrears.

Baroness Alicia Kennedy, the director of Generation Rent, is also critical of the Budget – and she doesn’t restrict her comments to the rental sector.

“Rishi Sunak says this Budget protects jobs, but we know that redundancies are already rising at a faster rate than the 2008 financial crisis. Two in five private renters are now relying on benefits and 715,000 households don’t get enough Universal Credit to cover their rent” she claims.

“This Budget has done nothing to help those without jobs protect their homes. The Chancellor ignored the very real rent debt crisis and without government action renters will have no protection from eviction and homelessness. We need a Covid Rent Debt Fund to clear arrears and an extension to the eviction ban as long as restrictions are in place.”

The Baroness continues: “Instead, the Chancellor has announced 95 per cent mortgages, which is completely out of touch when 60 per cent of private renters had no savings at the start of the pandemic and another 18 per cent have had to use savings to pay their rent in the past year.

“The government tried a mortgage guarantee scheme eight years ago and all it did was push up house prices, while another half a million households have got stuck renting over the same period. Stoking demand with more lending and extending the stamp duty holiday will not fix the underlying shortage of homes available to buy.”

On the stamp duty extension, Propertymark’s policy adviser Mark Hayward says: “The extension of the stamp duty holiday to the end of June followed by the transition to the end of September is much needed to help prevent sales falling through as the initial deadline approaches. 

“We urge the governments in Scotland and Wales to follow the UK government’s lead on this. We know from our own research that failed sales cost estate agents more than £4,000 per sale and consumers more than £1,500 which is why we have called on government to rethink the stamp duty holiday timings. 

“This is good news for the market and will help maintain consumer confidence who are seeking to buy and sell in the coming months.”

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.