"We need a package that supports both tenants and landlords"
As tenants and landlords face ever growing costs, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has called on the government to adopt a cost-of-living plan for the private rented sector.
In a letter to finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng, the NRLA warned that while private rents are increasing, rising costs such as energy, food, and other bills will make it more difficult for many tenants to meet their rent payments.
The NRLA also pointed out that landlords are struggling too, with recent research by estate agency Hamptons concluding that the impact of rising interest rates on mortgages raises the prospect of landlords making a loss on their properties.
The landlords’ association also noted that most landlords cannot shoulder the cost of rising prices indefinitely. It cited official data showing that 69% of private landlords are basic rate income taxpayers.
The NRLA has asked Kwarteng to adopt its plan for the sector, to be financed by a reported £1.5 billion underspend in budgets at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The plan includes reforming the benefits system to prevent rent arrears, which could also involve the unfreezing of housing benefit rates, ending the five weeks wait for the first payment of Universal Credit, and giving Universal Credit claimants the ability to choose, at the start of a claim, to have the housing element paid direct to their landlord if they so wish.
Read more: Landlords slam Labour’s plans for a new renters’ charter.
Also included in the proposals were extending access to emergency housing support to those not in receipt of benefits; scrapping the £400 energy bills support scheme payment, and instead repurposing the money, paying it direct to every household in one go; and dealing with the supply crisis in the private rented sector.
NRLA added that to address the supply crisis, the government must reverse the decision to restrict mortgage interest relief in the private rented sector, and end the stamp duty levy on the purchase of homes to rent out.
“Both landlords and tenants are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis,” Ben Beadle, chief executive at the National Residential Landlords Association, said. “We need a package that supports both to prevent rent arrears and sustain tenancies.
“Our proposals provide a pragmatic way forward that would have an immediate and positive impact on the private rented sector. We call on the chancellor to act as a matter of urgency.”