Buy-to-let mortgage arrears increased in the first quarter of 2019, prompting concerns that disgruntled tenants are stopping paying rent as a result of landlords giving them notice and exiting the sector.
The latest arrears and repossession data from UK Finance showed that while repossessions in the buy-to-let sector were down, there were 4,620 landlord mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the first three months of 2019 – up 3% annually.
Within the total there were 1,200 buy-to-let mortgages with arrears representing 10% or more of the outstanding balance, up 12% on the previous year.
UK Finance has claimed this is not an increasing trend, but Mike Pilling, managing director of Spicerhaart Corporate Sales, warns that it could be a consequence of landlords leaving the buy-to-let sector amid tax and regulatory clampdowns.
He said: “As a result of recent regulatory changes, there are many private landlords looking to get out of the sector, and this rise could be down to the fact that some tenants who have been given notice are now not making their rent payments.”
The figures also show the level of home owner mortgage arrears fell 4%, but 1,380 properties were taken into possession in the first quarter of 2019, 10% higher than in the same quarter of the previous year.
UK Finance said this was due to a backlog of cases and is still well below the levels seen between 2009 and 2014.