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Government accused of prioritising landlords profit over renters' survival

THE government was today accused of prioritising landlords’ profits over renters' survival following a report that it will extend the mortgage-relief scheme beyond the end of June.

On March 17, the government announced a three-month mortgage repayment “holiday” for property owners whose income had been hit by the pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is now believed to be discussing ways of extending the scheme, according to the Financial Times –although a Treasury spokesman described the report as speculation.

More than 1.6 million mortgage holders have taken advantage of payment holidays, deferring payments estimated to average £755 a month.

Those taking advantage of the scheme will still have to repay the whole of their outstanding mortgages, so will face higher monthly bills once the scheme comes to an end.

Although the government also placed a temporary ban on tenant evictions, many renters have fallen behind with their payments or seen existing arrears grow. 

But the government has not blocked landlords from seeking eviction notices, so many renters could be made homeless when the temporary ban is lifted and courts reopen on June 25.

London Renters Union organiser Claire Welden said: “The government is prioritising landlords’ profits over renters’ survival. 

“As well as getting an extended mortgage holiday, landlords are benefiting from the increase in the universal credit local housing allowance, which effectively subsidises their wealth. 

“Every landlord owns hundreds of thousands of pounds of wealth, while nearly two-thirds of renters have no savings. Clearly, it’s renters who should be getting support right now.”

Ms Welden said that if the government really did want to avoid a sudden increase in financial distress when its temporary measures end, it should prevent the eviction crisis that will begin as soon as the temporary ban is lifted.

“And it needs to end the rent crisis that has been building for years, but which the pandemic has magnified to catastrophic proportions,” she added.

“Instead, the government has only proposed the weakest of stopgap measures. 

“It must suspend rent, cancel rent debt and make the eviction ban permanent, otherwise we’re headed for a disastrous rent debt and eviction crisis.”

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