People who rent their homes will not be offered a three-month rent break similar to the mortgage holiday available to homeowners.

The government appears to have ruled out offering renters whose finances have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic a rent holiday.

Homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgage are able to apply to their lender for a three-month payment holiday.

But in response to a written parliamentary question about whether similar support was planned for renters, Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist said the government did not think such a measure was necessary at this stage.

Instead, she said emergency legislation introduced by the government would prevent landlords from taking eviction proceedings against tenants for three months.

Baroness Bloomfield said: "As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation need to be concerned about the threat of eviction. As such, the Government does not believe a ‘rent holiday’ is necessary at this stage."

What support is available to renters?

The Coronavirus Act 2020 means eviction proceedings cannot be started against tenants for at least three months, even if they are unable to pay rent.

But the legislation, which covers tenants in both private and social accommodation, does not automatically give tenants the right to take a payment holiday in the way the provisions for homeowners do.

However, many mortgage lenders have also extended the three-month payment holiday that is available to homeowners to buy-to-let landlords, on the understanding that they will pass on the benefit to tenants who are facing financial difficulties.

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What should I do if I am struggling to pay my rent?

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, you should contact your landlord as soon as possible.

If you are able to afford to pay some but not all of your rent, it may be worth asking if they would be prepared to accept a reduced rent for a limited period. 

But any rent that goes unpaid will need to be made up in future, and landlords have been instructed to work with their tenants to establish a payment plan to clear any arrears that have built up. 

Coronavirus: Get the latest property news and information

What’s the background?

The government has also put in place a range of measures to help support workers’ incomes during the disruption caused by coronavirus.

If you are employed by a company, it has agreed to pay 80% of your salary up to a maximum of £2,500, as long as your employer agrees to keep you on their payroll. This is called furlough.

If you are self-employed or a freelancer and your income has been hit, you can apply for a grant worth 80% of your average monthly profit, again up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. 

The money will not be available until the start of June at the earliest, but it will be backdated to March.

The government has also increased the local housing allowance for people who are unemployed, on low incomes or claiming certain benefits to cover at least the bottom 30% of market rents in your local area, while the universal credit allowance is being increased by £20 a week for all new and existing claimants. 

Top 3 takeaways

1. The Government appears to have ruled out offering tenants whose finances have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic a three-month rent holiday.

2. Instead, it has introduced legislation preventing landlords from taking eviction proceedings against tenants for three month.

3. Anyone who is facing problems paying their rent should contact their landlord as soon as possible.

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