Grants of up to £10,000 have been offered to businesses running holiday lets, while the PRS is ignored. Wales policy officer Tim Thomas shares the latest on NRLA calls for a level playing field.
‘Now is a precarious time to be a landlord. Businesses across Britain have been hit hard by coronavirus – and landlords are no different.
The Welsh Government has reacted to this, by making grants of up to £10,000 available as part of a £1.1bn package to support Welsh businesses.
And while we at the NRLA appreciate the efforts the government has made when it comes to supporting the wider economy – including providing advice and guidance to landlords – we are concerned that holiday-home owners are being offered funding not available to private landlords.
Five Welsh local authorities have also raised caution over the grants, especially the fact that second-home owners who claim business rates rather than council tax, have access to grant funding.
Many NRLA members are also concerned that these funding streams are out of reach for them.
In Gwynedd alone there are five thousand second-home owners, with local authority estimates suggesting the owners of around 1,800 holiday lets are claiming grant support during the pandemic.
However as HMRC does not view landlords as being self-employed and many landlords do not employ staff, instead operating singlehandedly, landlords are not eligible for grant support.
This is despite the fact that many landlords are still liable for running costs and lost rental income while others are struggling to keep tenants in accommodation.
We have been lobbying both the UK and Welsh Governments for support for PRS landlords, with many landlord members heavily reliant income from rent, especially those who don’t have mortgages so will not feel the benefit of mortgage deferral plans.
Furthermore, some residential landlords are paying up to 200% council tax for empty properties – as they have been unable to find tenants during lockdown. Holiday lets are not subject to these stipulations, which is further evidence of the uneven playing field.
To help Welsh landlords keep their tenants safe during the pandemic, we want:
- Access to funding support for residential landlords in line with other accommodation providers
- A relaxation of empty property Council Tax schemes until the pandemic is over
- A pause to the beginning of new local authority licensing schemes and an unequivocal statement that landlords will not be penalised if they are unable to comply
- A stronger message that if tenants can pay their rent then they should and to speak to their landlord if they are financially struggling
- A clear statement providing protection against sanctions for landlords who cannot comply with statutory checks including gas and energy checks
Without access to this support, we are concerned that more members could be forced to sell properties which could further impact housing options for renters including the most vulnerable and at most risk from Coronavirus.’
For more information on coronavirus and your lettings visit the NRLA’s dedicated coronavirus pages, which can be found here.