The eviction ban: Yvonne's story
Landlord Yvonne and her husband Edward currently live in a rented property overseas, where they moved several years ago for work reasons.
Before they made the big move abroad, the couple bought a property in Conwy, North Wales 5 years ago and decided to rent this out through a letting agent. With the idea of moving into the property in their native Wales when they returned.
Prior to the pandemic hitting, the couple had no issues with the tenant who was living at the property. The tenant had always paid their rent on time.
However, issues began to arise in March last year. Yvonne says the tenant suddenly stopped paying any rent. When she tried to reach out to the tenant, through the letting agent, to see if they needed some additional support and what the reasons for this may be, the tenant stated he was following Government advice and was under the impression (wrongly) he didn't need to pay during a public health crisis.
Despite the tenant continuing to work as normal during the pandemic and then furloughed, Yvonne says they had not paid any rent and now owe more than £7000 in rent arrears. She reached out to her tenant, through the letting agent, to signpost them to support schemes available such as the Tenancy Saver Loan but didn't hear back.
Yvonne is the Director of her company and has not received a salary for nearly a year now, in order to support her employees and is not in a position herself to continue to cover the costs.
As the months went on, as well as the financial worries, she also became increasingly worried about the neighbours living near to the rental property, due to reports of the tenant behaving anti-socially at the property.
Despite multiple attempts to try and get hold of the tenant, Yvonne was left with no choice but to serve notice, as she simply couldn't afford to receive no rent and there was no clear explanation from the tenant as to why. In addition to this, Yvonne paid £1400 to keep the property in good repair during this time; a legal obligation regardless of whether the landlord receives rent.
She served notice, but she still had to give the tenant six months’ notice due to the changing rules of the on-going pandemic. The tenant should have been vacated from the property on 13th January, but unfortunately on 11th January new Welsh guidelines came in, stating that tenants could not be evicted until 31st March. However, two weeks ago, the tenant suddenly returned the keys to the agent of the property, and abandoned the property, owing £7000 of rent and the house being returned in an awful condition.
This situation has been stressful for Yvonne and her husband, and they now face having to cover the rent arrears themselves. They say they have been surprised at how there is "little to no support available for landlords" during this time.
The eviction ban has exacerbated the debt she now faces due to rent arrears and she is now worried about paying for the house and her credit rating being affected because of this in future.
“A small number of rogue landlords have meant that it is far harder for responsible landlords to operate in the sector", says Yvonne, "As a renter myself I understand from both sides, but I now feel it is difficult to trust potential tenants and worried about my future as a landlord. It has really opened my eyes to the issue’s landlords face in the UK. I am surprised there is not support for landlords, like there is available for tenants in Wales, to support them financially during this unprecedented time.”
NRLA Wales is campaigning for greater uptake of the tenancy saver loans and support for landlords with tenants with pre-Covid and significant arrears. You can find more information on this here