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Landlords urge govt to clarify position on rent

Landlords urge govt to clarify position on rent

Landlords have called on the government to clarify its position on rent payments during the coronavirus crisis saying many tenants are under the impression their payment is no longer due.

According to the National Residential Landlords Association, more and more landlords are contacting the pressure group saying their tenants think they are exempt from paying rent as a result of the pandemic.

Such tenants believe because lenders have provided the option of a three-month mortgage payment holiday to landlords, they should not pay rent.

The NRLA said while it believed flexibility was “necessary” during the pandemic, it called on the government to clarify and better publicise its guidance that tenants must still meet their rental obligations where they can to dispel any myths.

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.”

Mr Beadle said the rules meant that where a tenant was having genuine difficulty, landlords had greater flexibility to agree a mutually acceptable plan to defer the rent due.

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

The NRLA has called on landlords to show as much flexibility with tenants as they are able to within their means and said it had been “heartened” by many stories showing tenants and landlords pulling together at this difficult time.

Nick Morrey, product technical manager at John Charcol, said he "totally understood" where the NRLA was coming from, noting that many landlords would not be getting a mortgage holiday.

But he added: "Currently there's no provision for tenants to have a rent holiday which means they are still liable to pay. I would urge all landlords to enter dialogue with their tenant to see what they can do to help.

"A lot of tenants will not be able to be furloughed and may have to wait for government aid to come through, especially if they are self-employed or on zero hour contracts. Landlords should be helping those in financial hardship and strengthen their relationship during this time."

imogen.tew@ft.com

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