Council in appeal to private landlords to offer rent holidays

Days after other councils in London stepped in to demand that private landlords offer rent breaks and financial help to their tenants affected by the covid-19 pandemic, Croydon has stepped in to do the same.

Yesterday, the council issued a press release stating that it has written to the landlords of more than 35,000 privately 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.

Without government legislation, the request is simply that – a request – but given the severity of the emergency, the hope is that landlords may take a long view. The government has put in place the opportunity for property owners – including private landlords – to get a three-month mortgage holiday during the emergency, and Croydon and other councils are hopeful that enlightened landlords will pass on the benefits of this to their tenants through their rentbooks.

On Wednesday, the government also announced plans to introduce emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or rented accommodation.

The council says that 40 per cent of the borough’s residents live in rented accommodation.

The council has pledged not to evict any council tenants whose rent arrears have been caused by coronavirus restrictions, and also to suspend all council evictions until further notice.

The letter to landlords from Croydon Council came from Alison Butler, the cabinet member for housing.

“As a significant landlord ourselves,” she wrote, “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.

Alison Butler: owner of two homes who is asking landlords to provide rent holidays to their tenants

“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,” Butler said.

Not mentioned anywhere in the council press release was whether Butler, and her husband and fellow councillor, Paul Scott, who between them receive more than £90,000 per year in Town Hall allowances, will be donating any of that money to local homelessness charities, or providing a rent break for their (publicly undeclared) second home that they own in the borough, if it is currently occupied by a tenant.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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