More than 800,000 renters in arrears

Published on the 22nd of December, the NRLA has found that over 800,000 private renters in England and Wales have accrued rent arrears since March 2020.;

Published on the 22nd of December, the NRLA have found that over 800,000 private renters in England and Wales have accrued rent arrears since March 2020.

Arrears mounting

The NRLA conducted a survey of tenants and determined that 7% of renters have built up arrears during the pandemic.

Of these renters, the survey found that younger people were more likely to have been affected, with 14% of tenants between the ages of 18 and 24 years impacted.

The self-employed were also the most likely to be in arrears, with 17% reporting that they had developed rent arrears since March.

Those working in the construction and computer service sector were also heavily affected (15%) as well as those working in the restaurant industry (14%).

Regional variance

Geographically, the largest proportion of renters with arrears were located in the West Midlands, where 11% of tenants surveyed had built up rent debts since March.

This was closely followed by London, where 9% of renters had accrued arrears.

The area with the least amount of rent arrears was the South West, with only 3% of tenants surveyed having arrears due to the pandemic.

NRLA’s response

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

“Our research highlights in stark terms the rent debt crisis now engulfing the rental market.

“Whilst the vast majority of landlords have done everything possible to support tenants affected due to COVID-19, expecting them to muddle through without further support is hurting tenants as well as landlords.

“Ministers need to accept that simply banning repossessions does nothing to keep tenants in their homes long term. In fact, it will achieve the complete opposite - kicking the can down the road just means larger debts piling up, creating a bigger problem for tenants and also for landlords.

“To sustain tenancies the Government needs to provide an urgent financial package to get rent debts built due to the pandemic paid off.”

What can be done?

As Commercial Trust reported last week, the situation has led to a collaboration between the NRLA and tenant organisations such as Citizens Advice and Shelter.

The unified message to MP’s one of a demand for financial support for the private rental sector.

In the report, it is also highlighted that other parts of the UK are benefitting from “tenant hardship loans”, which could be used to alleviate some of the impact on landlords.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.