Croydon Council is urging private landlords to support tenants who are in financial hardship caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).
On Thursday (19 March) the council wrote to the landlords of over 35,000 private rented properties in the borough, recommending they offer either rental holidays or short-term reductions for those tenants who are at risk of homelessness because of coronavirus affecting the economy. The council already offers a range of help for residents in financial difficulty, from support managing their money to discretionary grants and one-to-one advice.
On Tuesday, the government announced significant financial measures to support the national economy and limit the virus-related impact of reduced incomes, including illness and self-isolation, restrictions on social gatherings and businesses losing money.
This government announcement included a three-month mortgage holiday for homeowners in financial difficulty. However, only 60% of Croydon residents own their property – with the remaining 40% renting, either social rented or private rented. On Wednesday, the government announced plans to introduce emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or rented accommodation.
The council has already put in place measures to provide extra help for council tenants during the COVID-19 restrictions, including a pledge to not only evict no-one whose rent arrears have been caused by coronavirus restrictions but also to suspend all council evictions until further notice.
Thursday’s council letter to landlords from deputy leader Councillor Alison Butler read:
“As a significant landlord ourselves, the council fully understands the importance of rental income. However, offering support (which might include rental holidays or short-term reductions) where residents face short-term challenges will be critical for residents during this unprecedented time. I hope that you will consider such support if it becomes necessary.”
The council already offers significant support to any borough residents in financial difficulty, including debt advice, help maximising benefits, skills training and a 24/7 homeless hub. Residents can also request to become a member of one of the borough’s Food Stops, where eligible residents can get £20 worth of fresh food and other groceries for £3.50 per week.
• For council welfare advice, freephone 0800 731 5920 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• If you are a resident needing support, or you are a community organisation wanting to refer a member of the public for help, email: email@example.com
• To report any rough sleeper you’re concerned about, use StreetLink
• For advice on how to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments, visit the council website.
Councillor Alison Butler, Croydon Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, said: “Drops in income caused by coronavirus restrictions will most affect those who can least afford it, not just with paying rent but also affording to buy the basics in these times of great uncertainty. That is why we’re asking private landlords to do what they can to join us in helping Croydon residents in need.
“We recognise this is a big thing to ask of private landlords, especially if their sole income is from tenants, so while the government’s measures announced so far are very welcome, we urge ministers to give them additional support. The government can also help by suspending the use of all possession orders during this exceptionally tough time, not just new ones, and raising the housing benefit threshold to meet rents in full.”