I appreciate that the past year has brought unique challenges to renters and those in the residential rental sector. That is why I am relieved that decisive action was taken to protect those in both the private and social rented sectors, which has provided thousands of households throughout England with the certainty they needed during these unprecedented times.
Support was put in place through a pause in evictions in all but the most egregious cases, such as anti-social behaviour, and requirements for six months’ notice to be given. As we emerge from the worst of the crisis, a four-month notice period is in place until 30 September for non-egregious cases to offer continued protection for tenants. As of 1 August, the notice period is two months for cases where there are less than four months of unpaid rent.
I recognise the concerns that renters may have now that the eviction moratorium has been lifted and notice periods will shortly be returning to pre-pandemic levels. That is why I am pleased that the Government has stepped in to provide extensive financial support to renters, with £140 million in funding available this year through Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to support renters with housing costs. This builds on wider support in place to help households with other costs, such as the £670 million that is available for 2021-22 to help those struggling to pay council tax.
Billions have been injected into the welfare system, including increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance for a further six months until the end of September. The Government's package of financial support has helped to save lives and livelihoods, kept businesses running and assisted those who are struggling the most.
Offering support to landlords throughout the difficulties of the pandemic has also been crucial. Landlords may rightly be concerned about meeting mortgage payments, which could in turn put pressure on their tenants. As such, a mortgage payment holiday extension was provided for buy-to-let landlords whose tenants were experiencing financial difficulties.
It is very important that landlords and renters continue to work together to agree on affordable repayment plans, established with an understanding of the renter's financial circumstances, and raise potential issues at the earliest opportunity.
Looking to the future, I am assured that the Government is committed to reforming the rental sector for tenants and landlords alike. A package of reforms will be brought forward to drive improvements in standards in rented accommodation, set to be outlined in a White Paper this autumn. I understand that these reforms will include considerations of measures to hold rouge landlords to account for delivering safe and decent housing without penalising good landlords, with the Government committing to exploring the merits of a landlord register. Measures will also enhance renters’ security and improve protections for short-term tenants by abolishing ‘no-fault’ evictions.
I am therefore assured that, building on the substantial support provided throughout the pandemic, the Government is continuing to work to deliver a fairer and more effective rental market.