Nobody can deny that the financial support package provided by the UK Government has gone a long way to mitigate the initial financial ramifications caused by the pandemic.
However, as time goes on, the longer-term effects and secondary shock waves are appearing, highlighting specific sectors that need more targeted financial support.
For instance, until recently, landlords in the private rented sector were largely overlooked. But that all changed when the Government announced a £65 million support package, which will be added to the £310 million Homelessness Prevention Grant, for the purpose of applying funds to arrears payments.
This fund has been divided between local authorities and is not equal, therefore, all landlords should enquire with their local office to assess the size of the ‘purse’ for their area.
For some time, calls have been mounting from organisations within the sector for a specific financial package to come to the aid of both landlords and vulnerable renters. Fear was building that the rental market could be a ticking time bomb in relation to rent arrears. It seemed a logical fear given that, due to the pandemic, those living in rental properties are often the most likely to find themselves in a precarious financial position, owing this in part to their lower income employment.
Government action had already offered a degree of protection to renters during covid, but this announcement can be considered as acknowledgement that landlords are also deserving of financial support.
The support package will take the form of a rent fund to help low-income earners in the private rental sector who have fallen into arrears, as a direct result of the pandemic.
The money will be administered by the relevant Local Authority and paid directly to the landlord. Each case will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis with emphasis on the most urgent receiving assistance first.
The Government have already stated they are “grateful” to landlords for their support during the pandemic, but this financial commitment goes one step further, offering tangible support to vulnerable renters. In turn, this mitigates potential losses and associated difficulties for their landlords.
Whether you need to access the fund or not, this is positive news for everyone in the sector. Although, if you are one of these landlords, the procedure to claim with your local authority has not yet been made clear. We are monitoring the Local Authorities for the very small number of our landlords that were impacted and would recommend you do the same, if you have suffered financial loss.
Of course, the announcement clearly demonstrates the Government’s understanding of the value of the private rented sector for the nation’s economy and the important role it will play in the overall economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Long may support of this style continue if the claim process is managed.