Tenants who contract the coronavirus or who are forced to self-isolate and therefore cannot work should not have to pay their rent, say leading campaign groups.

Landlords are facing increasing pressure from poverty campaigners and tenants’ groups to offer vulnerable renters who are unable to work after contracting the Coronavirus to be given rent payment holidays.

National tenants’ union Acorn has gone the furthest, calling for landlords to also halt evictions while the pandemic sweeps through the UK, while a leading Scottish tenants’ union has said that tenants should be given rent holidays if landlords are allowed to suspend mortgage payments.

Lettings platform Apropos has called on landlords with mortgages to contact their lenders as soon as possible to negotiate payment holidays “which many of the banks have already agreed for individual borrowers so this may be available for landlords,” says its MD David Alexander.

Several leading lenders have already announced financial support packages for their borrowers including the Halifax, which is offering to temporarily abolish fees for customers who miss their mortgage payments, and mortgage holidays.

Three months holidays

Richard Murphy, a leading poverty campaigner and tax accountant, has called for tenants who contract the virus or who choose to self-isolate to be given a three-month rent holiday.

“I would suggest that the grant of that extension should be automatic to anyone who does not make a due payment of rent on the required date during the period of the epidemic,” he has said in a blog.

“They should be automatically granted this extension by the landlord without having to make any further application or to complete any additional paperwork.”

The debate about rent holidays is also raging on Twitter. One tweeter, a Northern Ireland lecturer calling herself Elaine Crory, tweeted: “I’m just throwing this out there as a 40 year old renter who supports a family of four on one income; if mortgages can be suspended during Coronavirus, but landlords continue to collect rent (thereby *making money* from this), I WILL RIOT.” Her comment has been ‘liked’ by over 68,600 people so far and retweeted nearly 10,000 times.

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