As key courts prepare to hear possession hearings once more later this month, Hackney council has written to all its registered landlords to ask them to give tenants more time to pay and also consider rent reductions.

Landlords in Hackney are some of the first being asked to help their struggling tenants when possession hearings restart in three weeks’ time.

The local council has written to all its 2,500 registered private landlords as it believes Hackney’s high rents mean support through sick pay or Universal Credit is often not enough to provide security due to the government’s benefits cap.

“We’re grateful to the many landlords in Hackney who are already doing this, but the real challenge will come as the freeze on evictions ends and the economic impact of the pandemic hits,” says councillor Sem Moema, mayoral adviser for private renting and housing affordability.

“These are issues on which we need the Government to act, but until then I’m asking landlords to do their bit to help prevent a homelessness crisis in Hackney.”

Instead of beginning the evictions process, the letter asks landlords to offer time and flexibility where tenants are struggling financially, and to consider rent reductions where a tenant really can’t pay.

She tells LandlordZONE that private renters are among those least protected from the coronavirus pandemic, which is why it’s vital that landlords go beyond the requirements set by Government and give their tenants protection and flexibility where it’s needed.

Hackney Council has also written to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick asking for a long-term plan to provide continued protection for private renters as it says their security is at risk while the Government has yet to announce whether it’s extending the ban on evictions. It is still waiting for a response.

The council also recently refused to back a London ‘rent strike’.

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