Landlords have hit back at claims by housing charity Shelter that they are queuing up to oust tenants when the Covid-19 eviction ban ends on 23 August.
An estimated 227,000 adult private renters (3%) have fallen into arrears since the start of the pandemic, new research by Shelter shows.
Polling carried out for Shelter by YouGov reveals that 174,000 private tenants have already been threatened with eviction by their landlord or letting agent.
Keeping tenants in their homes
However, the leading landlords’ association says the vast majority of property owners are continuing to do all they can to keep tenants in their homes.
“Our recently published guidance supports tenants and landlords to hold discussions about how to address rent arrears and sustain tenancies,” said Chris Norris, Policy Director at the National Residential Landlords Association.
“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.”
Mr Norris gave the example of one landlord who began 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.
The landlord says the tenant “has continually been anti-social and paid little rent, although the application for direct payment was quick, easy and successful. Arrears still exist, as does the antisocial behaviour.
“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,” added the landlord.
In another case, the landlady 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.
Shelter has called on Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to change the law to give judges the power to ensure that no renter is automatically evicted, and that the impact of coronavirus is always considered.