Landlords have responded to claims made today by Shelter about rent arrears due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by saying that they will do all they can to sustain tenancies.
Shelter says about 227,000 private renters in England are at risk of losing their homes when the present ban on evictions ends in August.
Shelter is also claiming that more than three in ten renters are depressed and anxious about their housing and that a quarter of all calls to its helpline are from people scared of losing their home.
A Shelter poll of 1,058 private renters in England conducted by YouGov estimated 442,403 of the country’s 8.7m renters – roughly 5% – were in arrears in early June.
Of them, 226,785 said they were up to date with payments in March, before the height of the pandemic.
Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association said:
“Throughout the lockdown, our surveys show that the vast majority of landlords have been doing all they can to keep people in their homes.
“Our recently published guidance supports tenants and landlords to hold discussions about how to address rent arrears and sustain tenancies.
“It is important though to distinguish between tenants affected by COVID-19 and those who were building rent arrears before lockdown, sometimes for several months and sometimes wilfully.
“When the courts re-start hearing possession cases the latter should be the priority along with instances where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse.”
The NRLA referred to case studies that illustrate the issues.
Mrs R is a single parent who finds herself potentially unemployed as a new job she was about to start fell through due to the pandemic.
She does not make any money on the property as it is in negative equity and has kept rent levels the same for a decade.
She submitted court papers to repossess a property because a tenant had not paid rent since around November last year and has convictions for harassing the neighbours.
The evictions ban means that the tenant continues to stay in the property, living without paying any rent despite him receiving furlough money.
Peter had to begin evictions proceedings in January against one of his tenants due to the non-payment of rent, a process which has been halted due to the repossessions ban.
Peter says of the tenant:
“He has continually been anti-social, paid little rent, although the application for direct payment was quick, easy and successful.
“Arrears still exist, as does the antisocial behaviour.
“He also admits people into the house, parties and socialising daily.
“This tenant is aware that eviction is not possible until an order is made and bailiffs attend.
“He is hiding and protected behind all Covid laws…it’s been negative, disruptive, anti-social and potentially dangerous to tenants in my case.
“Ministers should allow evictions for specific cases.”