Coronavirus: Labour urges government to scrap rent payments for three months

Outgoing Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell proposed the rent review. (PA)

Labour has urged the government to allow private tenants who are struggling to pay their rent because of coronavirus to be exempt from paying their landlord for three months.

A report penned by the party's outgoing Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says people are being “driven to destitution” by the current situation as it urged the government to step in.

Plans announced earlier this month by the government mean landlords cannot start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period in a bid to ensure renters do not worry about the threat of losing their home.

But, according to Politics Home, Mr McDonnell’s report says tenants who are struggling should be completely exempt from paying rent over the next three months.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced protection from eviction for tenants earlier this month. (PA)

"Where necessary rent payments should be suspended for a three-month period to enable people to feed themselves and their loved ones, and to avoid driving people into destitution,” the report says.

“At a time of widespread job losses and wage cuts of at least 20%, it is not unreasonable for landlords, many benefiting from a mortgage holiday, to prepare for small declines in their regular income."

Conservative MP and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said earlier this month: “The Government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.

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“These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage.

“Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.

“These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.”

But Labour MP John Healey said Boris Johnson had broken his promise to 20 million renters across the country after promising a ban on evictions.

The shadow housing secretary said: “This legislation does not stop people losing their homes as a result of coronavirus, it just gives them some extra time to pack their bags.

“It beggars belief that the Government is not willing to make this simple change.”

Mr Healey said ministers had been asked by the Labour party to ban evictions and suspend rental payment.

He said: “This is the help already promised for struggling home-owners from the Government and mortgage lenders.

“Coronavirus is a public health emergency. It need not become a crisis of housing and homelessness too. But this will happen if the Government continues to refuse to take the most basic steps to keep people in their homes.”