The government has recently announced that it will make £65m available to support low income earners who are in rent arrears, as a result of the pandemic. Here we provide further details to support tenants and landlords in understanding what this might mean to them.
When will the fund be available?
It’s due to be made available throughout the winter months and will be distributed amongst local authorities in England. Different amounts have been allocated to each local authority and it will be up to each one to decide which tenants will benefit. They will look at each application on a case-by-case basis.
What’s the application process?
The tenant must apply to their local authority for assistance; not the landlord. Contact details can be found via the ‘Find your local council’ page on the government website or tenants could ask their landlord (or letting agent) for help in finding the contact details. If you are a tenant, you simply need to state that ‘you wish to apply for support from the £65m Tenant Fund announced by the government in October 2021’.
What will the local authority want to know?
Details have not been confirmed yet but it is anticipated that applicants will need to provide evidence of rent arrears, income (including any benefits) and their personal circumstances i.e. if employed, if living alone or with a family etc. There may be more information required but, at the moment, there are no details available although, again, your local authority will be able to help at the time of application.
Is there anything landlords can do?
A landlord cannot apply on a tenant’s behalf but landlords are encouraged to let their tenants know about the fund if they are in rent arrears and if they are not already aware of its existence.
What happens if you are successful in gaining support from the fund, how will it be paid?
The payment, to cover rent arrears, will be paid direct to the existing landlord or, if the tenant is in the process of finding a new home, to the new landlord.
Is this the only support the government is offering?
No. There’s also the £500m Household Support Fund that the government launched in September 2021 that is designed to help vulnerable households across the country with the costs associated with of day-to-day living. Of this £421m will go to local authorities in England, £41m to the Scottish government, £25m to the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive. In England it’s been stated that 50% will go to households with children.
There’s also a £310m Homelessness Prevention Grant - which combines and increases the previous Flexible Homelessness Support Grant and Homelessness Reduction Grant - and also £140m available through Discretionary Housing Payments, which can also be used to prevent evictions and help people find a new home.
What does this all mean to landlords and tenants?
It means that, despite the difficulties that some tenants may be experiencing, there could be help available and both landlords and tenants are urged to find out information from their local authority with the aim to ensure that any existing of potential tenancy can continue.
As always, at Your Move we’ll also do all we can to help landlords and tenants - simply contact your local Your Move branch