If you are a private landlord, or work on behalf of one, operating in Islington there are steps you can take to support your tenants, ensure they have a home and prevent the possibility of them being made homeless.
The worsening economic and public health situation we are now facing due to coronavirus means that more private tenants are likely to experience financial difficulties. We have called on central government to increase Universal Credit payments to match average rents in Islington. We also back the calls by many, including the National Residential Landlords Association and Generation Rent, for an emergency grant and loan package to support private renters who have fallen into arrears during the pandemic.
As a social landlord ourselves, it is disappointing that there has not been greater central government support for all landlords and we will continue to lobby central government to increase support for landlords. If you are struggling to make your mortgage repayments you can request a payment holiday, there is more information about this on the Financial Conduct Authority website.
Due to the coronavirus the rules about evictions have changed, you can find the latest information about this on the gov.uk website. Illegal eviction remains a criminal offence and Islington Council will take action against landlords who break the law.
We are not asking you to avoid all evictions, the courts will rightly prioritise evictions for perpetrators of antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse. However, the vast majority of tenants who are experiencing financial difficulties currently are doing so through no fault of their own, as a result of the pandemic. Here are some steps you can take to help these tenants:
- How you can support your tenants: the National Residential Landlords Association website has an action plan for managing arrears and avoiding possession claims, which we recommend you follow. We are hopeful that the economic and public health situation will improve this year. In the interim, we are keen to avoid an avalanche of evictions in the private sector that would undoubtedly undermine the economic recovery – a recovery which in the long term will benefit both tenants and landlords.
- What to do if your tenants are late paying their rent: if you are worried that your tenants in Islington may not be able to make their rent due to the pandemic affecting their finances, please encourage them to complete our Housing self-referral form, email us or call us on 020 7527 6371. Limited funding from central government means we will not be able to help all those with arrears, but in exceptional circumstances support could include an emergency grant to pay off arrears or discretionary payments to top up rent. This could be the case for very vulnerable tenants or where a landlord’s financial position is extremely precarious. If your tenant receives Universal Credit towards their rent, you may also be able to apply for housing payments to be paid to you directly, you can find more on the gov.uk website.
- If your tenants are having difficulty meeting their rent payments: the government has provided extra support for some benefit claimants, but the benefit cap will mean that not everyone will have received this. This could mean that your tenants are having more difficulty paying their rent. Our Resident Support Scheme provides guidance for tenants facing extreme hardship and who are unable to afford basic necessities or living costs. As part of this scheme Discretionary Housing Payments can provide extra money to assist with meeting a shortfall in housing costs and can be paid to residents affected by the benefit cap or Local Housing Allowance rate restrictions. To access a Discretionary Housing Payment, a tenant must be claiming housing benefit or universal credit with housing costs towards rental liability. Islington Council will look at each case individually and if a Discretionary Housing Payment is awarded, the council will determine the amount paid and how long it will be paid for. If you think your tenants may be eligible for this please encourage them to find out more about our Resident Support Scheme.
By following the above steps, your collective efforts to help prevent homelessness are greatly appreciated. If you have any further enquiries please email us.