With the eviction ban coming to an end (more or less) many tenants will be desperately worried and concerned about their home.
Many have a reduced income through no fault of their own and tenants organisations and others are saying that it is wrong that they should lose their home because of this.
There is also a problem for society if large numbers of hapless tenants are evicted – as no-one wants more homeless people particularly if they are forced to live on the streets.
Tenants organisations are calling for the eviction ban to remain. But is this the right answer to the problem?
Here are five points for discussion. Let me have your comments in the comments section below:
1 Government is effectively expecting landlords to bear the loss
The governments ‘policy’ for dealing with the issue of tenants being unable to afford their rent has largely been to prevent landlords from evicting them.
This means effectively that private citizens (most landlords own just one or two properties) are being expected to house tenants for free for an indefinite period of time.
Is this right?
Many landlords HAVE stepped up to the plate and offered tenants low or even rent free periods. However you cannot expect them to do this forever. A year is a long time.
2 Landlords still have to pay THEIR expenses
Although landlords with mortgages have been able to claim a payment holiday, this is only delaying payment.
Plus mortgages are only one payment landlords have to make. They also have other expenses including insurance, the cost of any repair work needed, gas and electricity safety inspections and the like.
These obligations do not stop just because the landlord is getting no income.
Larger portfolio landlords may be able to absorb the loss but smaller, for example, pensioner landlords who rely on the rent for their own income face huge difficulties if their tenants stop paying.
3 Most landlords would prefer not to evict
Most landlords are almost as reluctant to engage in court proceedings as their tenants are to be evicted. They are only driven to it by economic necessity.
If the only issue is rent arrears, most landlords would far rather allow tenants to stay. So long as they received their rent.
So if grants and loans were provided to tenants, the looming eviction crisis would largely disappear.
4 The Tories always prioritise home-ownership over renting
Tories seem to be obsessed with home ownership.
For the Tories home-owners = conservative voters and ever since the Thatcher era, their main objective has always been to get more and more people owning their own home. Rather than sort out the problems with the rental sector.
Listen carefully to Tory politicians when they speak about the housing crisis – they will almost always talk about (or at least mention) schemes to encourage home-ownership.
But this is a fantasy just now. House prices are far too high to allow most people in ‘ordinary’ jobs to be able to buy their own home.
However, there is nothing wrong with renting. In this country, it tends to be viewed as ‘second best’, even shameful.
The government needs to realise that renting a property is a perfectly valid and reasonable thing to do and give renters some respect. Rather than obsess about how they can turn them into property owners.
I think this may be why the rights of both tenants and landlords have not been supported and respected as they should have been.
It is also why Council housing (which was probably the best solution we ever had for housing people unable to afford their own home) is not encouraged as it should be and is still, shamefully, being sold off.
5 If landlords are not supported we are storing up big housing issues for the future
At the moment most landlords have to put up with things. However, once they have got their property back, they don’t have to carry on being landlords.
But we need landlords.
Most people are not in a position to buy. So we need more, not less rented properties. And we also need new properties, ideally built to zero carbon standards, maybe using new modular building methods.
However if landlords are not supported and their rights respected, builders and investors will not be willing to build the new properties or invest in the private rented sector.
And existing landlords will sell up and exit from the sector.
I think the government needs to think really carefully about its attitude towards the private rented sector and do more to support the many tenants who find themselves unable to afford their rent through no fault of their own.
Rather than put the whole burden of supporting tenants onto their landlords. Who will then, inevitably, have no alternative but to evict them once they are allowed, causing huge problems for society.
Long term, it must accept that the private rented sector is here to stay, and do more to support the rights of both the landlords and the tenants who live in it.