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    1st July 2021

    Wales Joins Scotland in Extending Help to Tenants with Rental Arrears

    While UK devolved governments put in place anti-eviction legislation during the course of the pandemic, they had previously done little to assist tenants falling behind with their rent due to various lockdowns and business shutdowns.

    With curbs on section 21 eviction, changes to the model tenancy agreement and more leading to many landlords questioning the impact of recent legislation on their businesses, the announcement of £10 Mn in grants to tenants with Covid-19 related arrears has been met with enthusiasm.

    Back in February, the BBC reported that around 750,000 UK families had fallen behind on housing costs – an increase of 450,000 since January 2020, leading to the BBC predicting a ‘rent-arrears crisis’. While the devolved governments have implemented eviction bans to ensure tenants avoiding losing their accommodation during the pandemic, there have been – unlike in many developed nations – no relief payments made to the public during the crisis and no effort to reverse the course of the possible crisis.

    That changed in June when Scotland announced £10 Mn in grant money to support tenants in rental arrears as a direct result of the pandemic. Following this example, Wales has announced their own £10 Mn in grants – something seen as a positive step by the National Residential Landlords Association, a spokesperson from which stated:

    Today’s announcement is a positive step for both landlords and tenants in Wales and will help keep people in their homes. We welcome that the Welsh Government has listened to NRLA calls to introduce an improved scheme that will help more tenants pay their rent.

    It is essential that the grants are made as accessible for tenants as possible and implemented effectively. We encourage landlords who have tenants with arrears to make them aware of the scheme.

    This help in Wales follows that of Scotland, and exposes England as being the poor relation when it comes to support for the private rented sector. It is time for the Chancellor to provide similar assistance for landlords and tenants in England.

    Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association

    What this means for Wirral landlords

    As things stand, there has been no support announced by the Chancellor  of England for tenants with rental arrears, as such there is not much that Wirral tenants or landlords can do at present if they find themselves in that position. However, as the Scottish and Welsh devolved parliaments have made funds available, there should be mounting pressure on the English parliament to follow suit – and you can find your MP here to let them know that you think this relief is as necessary here as it is in England’s neighbouring countries.

    While large businesses have been able to claim relief during the pandemic, the government has been less forthcoming for small business owners and sole traders – but pressure from constituents combined with the moves made by Wales and Scotland could well be enough to generate a response.

    However, as some Wirral landlords do have property in neighbouring Wales, it’s worth stating that the grants will be administered by local authorities and are open to tenants that are not receiving housing-related benefits. The grants will replace the ‘Tenancy Saver Loan’ introduced in December 2020 and anyone that received a Tenancy Saver Loan will have that loan converted to a grant.

    Eligible people are able to register their interest with their local authority immediately, while grants will be processed from around the middle of July.

    If you’re struggling with tenant/landlord relations, are worried about legal requirements or any other part of managing a property portfolio, you can Contact Us to speak to one of our experts and to see what we can do to help.

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