The proportion of private renters in arrears in England more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, government data has revealed.
Between April and May 2021 7% of private renters were in arrears, up from 3% in 2019/20, while an extra 9% say they expect to fall behind on rents in the next three months. A quarter (27%) also had difficulties in meeting their heating costs.
In response, the National Residential Landlords Association called for government support to help renters pay their debts, to ensure landlords don’t have to shoulder the burden.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Landlords are being put in a difficult position. They either try to shoulder rent debts they cannot afford or seek to repossess properties as a final resort.
“Without a targeted package of support to pay off COVID rent debts, many tenants run the risk of losing their homes needlessly. They also face the possibility that their credit scores will be damaged, making it more difficult to access new housing in future.
“The Chancellor needs to address this crisis. His continued failure to act signals to the private rented sector that the government simply does not care about the problem.”
The eviction ban made life very tough for landlords during the pandemic.
The process has now returned to normal after a year and a half of landlords being unable to reclaim their properties, even if their tenants weren’t paying the rent.
Landlords who were unlucky enough to fall foul of a rogue tenant typically lost £11,820 of rental income a year, according to agent Benham and Reeves.