Earlier this week, Martin Lewis shared an important message with landlords and renters about “forbearance” on his podcast. His website, Money Saving Expert, has since given an update on the private renting situation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis opened his latest episode of the Ask Martin Lewis Podcast by explaining that his answers could well change in a matter of hours. But he did have some advice for private renters and landlords alike, which is well worth listening to.
Lewis emphasised the idea of “forbearance” needed under current circumstances, explaining that renters and landlords both need to have to have understanding.
Speaking to landlords, he said: “I would certainly say that for big landlords who can afford it, or who have multiple properties out there, it would be a good idea right now to work out what your policy is. How are you going to treat people? Think of the long term, not the short term. Allowing people to have short term payment holidays to defer their rent or even just saying ‘I’m going to drop your rent for the moment’ if it’s necessary.’”
But he also told private tenants: “Renters who don’t need to, don’t take advantage – allow the support for those who need it.”
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So, what advice did he have for anyone who is worried about renting after losing an income because of coronavirus?
“The first thing that you need to do is look at what state support is available,” Lewis explained. “What benefits are available? Websites like Turn To Us may be able to help looking at those eventualities. Will they be able to claim Universal Credit and, what we called in the old days, housing benefit? So we’d first of all look at the income scenario: could they bring more income in?”
He then stressed the importance of communicating well with your landlord, adding: “And if that is a struggle, you should talk, and talk openly, to the landlord and try and come up to an arrangement that works best for you both.”
He continued: “Look, landlords who kick people out right now – it’s not that easy to kick someone out – are going to struggle to find new tenants. And if you’ve got a long term good tenant, we all understand the situation.
“This isn’t people who are playing hard and fast and loose with their finances. These are people who are in a struggling financial dynamic.
“I think I’m just going to have to keep using the word – it’s the word of the day – forbearance. It’s what we all need to do right now. Forbearance and a responsible attitude and no game playing on either side. But I can’t give you more than that.”
The government has now announced that landlords won’t be able to start eviction proceedings for at least the next three months, which will protect private and social tenants. Private landlords can be given a three-month payment holiday on their buy-to-let mortgages if their tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus. The government is introducing emergency legislation for this, but it is not yet clear when it will come into force.
The latest Money Saving Expert update explains: “Beyond this three-month point, you’ll be expected to work with your landlord to establish an affordable repayment plan which takes your circumstances into account.
“If you live in Scotland, your landlord will only be able to start proceedings to evict you if you’ve been in arrears for six months in a row (up from three months currently), according to a speech by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell in the Scottish parliament.”
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“The government has also said that existing protocols for social landlords dealing with rent arrears will be extended to include private landlords too, to ‘support engagement’ between landlords and tenants and help them solve disputes.
“It will ask landlords to be compassionate and allow tenants to stay in their homes wherever possible – while associations representing local government and housing associations have already said that no social renter should be evicted due to coronavirus.”
You can listen to the Ask Martin Lewis Podcast below
Stylist has contacted Money Saving Expert, who will keep us updated on the latest news and advice on renting during the coronavirus pandemic. You can find their latest advice here.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…