Industry News Sally Walmsley 12/08/2020

Tenant survey dispels fears of eviction surge

Over 95% of private tenants are paying their rent or have made an arrangement with their landlord to pay less rent or defer payment during the pandemic according to a new survey of tenants out today.

Independent polling for the National Residential Landlords Association finds that 87 per cent of private tenants have paid their rent as normal throughout the pandemic. An additional eight per cent said that they had agreed a reduced rent, a rent-free period or made some other agreement with their landlord or letting agent.

Ahead of the courts beginning to hear possession cases from 24th August, the survey shows that just over three per cent of tenants are building arrears and are unable or unwilling to repay these. Less than a third of all those with arrears (two per cent of the entire survey sample) have been served with a possession notice.

Further evidence that landlords are working to keep tenants in their homes comes from a survey which shows that 55 per cent of landlords who have granted at least one tenant a deferred rent or rent free period plan to absorb the losses from their own savings.

These figures come ahead of new rules being introduced which will mean courts can adjourn possession cases where landlords have failed to adequately explain the impact that the pandemic might have had on their tenants before seeking possession.

The NRLA has developed guidance in conjunction with other groups to support landlords and tenants to agree how to deal with rent arrears to sustain tenancies wherever possible.

It is now calling for Government guaranteed hardship loans to be made available to help those tenants who are in arrears because of the pandemic. Ahead of the winding down of the furlough scheme, the NRLA argues that such loans should be provided to eligible tenants interest free and ring-fenced solely to cover rent payments in order to give tenants security.

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

“Consistent with our previous surveys, this latest data demonstrates that the vast majority of landlords and tenants are working together constructively to sustain tenancies, and critically that the overwhelming majority of tenants are paying as normal. Eviction is not, and need not be, an inevitable outcome where tenants have struggled to pay their rent due to COVID-19. Those who argue otherwise are stoking needless anxiety for tenants.

“When the courts do start to hear cases again, it is essential that they deal swiftly with the most serious cases, including those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or where there are long standing rent arrears that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

“To offer security to tenants and landlords badly hit during the lockdown we are calling on the government to introduce a tenant loan scheme to help pay off arrears built due to the coronavirus.”

  • The NRLA’s guidance on managing rent arrears as a result of COVID-19 can be read online here.
Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley Magazine and Digital Editor

Sally is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

See all articles by Sally Walmsley