Industry News Sally Walmsley 12/10/2020

Landlord confidence falls amidst Covid pandemic

Almost two thirds of private landlords in England and Wales expect their rental business to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic according to new research.

The latest survey of just over 2,000 members of the NRLA found that 48 per cent felt they would face a ‘slightly’ negative impact to their business as a result of the pandemic and 18 per cent said they would face a ‘significant’ negative impact.  

This has caused landlord confidence to fall with 56 per cent saying that they were less, or much less, confident of being able to achieve their goals over the next year compared to three months ago.

Concerns over the impact the pandemic is having is affecting investment decisions being made by landlords. Whilst 16 per cent of those surveyed said they planned to purchase at least one or more properties over the next year, 30 per cent said they intend to sell one or more properties.

The likely fall in the supply of rental homes comes as the survey found that 35 per cent of respondents reported that over the previous three months they had seen an increase in demand for private rented housing.

With a previous analysis by the NRLA having suggested that total private sector rent arrears as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in England could be up to £437 million, landlords are calling on the Government to help sustain tenancies by providing the finances needed to pay off COVID related arrears.

Following similar schemes developed in Spain, Wales and Scotland, the NRLA is calling for tenants in England to be able to access hardship loans to cover such arrears. This would see loans available interest free and guaranteed by the government specifically to cover unpaid rents since lockdown measures began in March. Payments would be made directly to the landlord.

The NRLA’s survey has found that 78 per cent of respondents supported such a scheme. It has the support also, among others, of Lord Best, the former Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who has said of it: “The landlord is happy, the cost to government is very modest and to the tenant, bearable.”

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:

“Whilst the vast majority of landlords have been working constructively with their tenants where they have struggled due to the pandemic, it is not sustainable to expect them or tenants to continue having rent arrears building indefinitely. This is highlighted in the lower levels of confidence among landlords and the impact it is having on their businesses.

“Providing the financial support needed to help tenants pay off rent arrears built since lockdown started would cost the government less than the Eat Out to Help Out. As we head into more local lockdowns, it is even more important that tenants don’t have to worry about meeting their rent bill.”


  • The online survey of members of the National Residential Landlords Association took place between the 5th September and the 5th October 2020 covering the third quarter of 2020.
  • Details of the NRLA’s analysis of the total rent arrears in England in the private sector due to COVID-19 can be accessed here