Many landlords have been forced to house and financially support tenants during the pandemic as rent arrears have piled up and evictions have been suspended.
But once the ban is lifted, it will be difficult to pre-plan evictions as the court system struggles to cope with the backlog of possession hearings.
Letting agents, as usual, will be stuck in the middle. They still have to manage properties even if their tenants are in arrears and even though, in many cases, the court backlog is unlikely to be cleared until well into next year.
And let’s not forget that the government may extend its eviction ban and kick the problem of homelessness and rent arrears further down the road, yet again.
But soon landlords, tenants and agents will have to face the stark reality that once the ban finishes, tenants who have amassed large rent arrears – and particularly those who have hidden behind the evictions ban – will have to be removed from properties.
It’s crazy to think that landlords will continue to allow tenants to stay without paying indefinitely, so unless the defaults are paid the tenants will have to go.
Letting agents, landlords and tenants are well aware of the rent arrears building up, so the only way out is for the government and/or councils to cover these arrears, allowing tenants to clear their debts via a plan and by paying the housing benefit element of Universal Credit directly to landlords.
It would be expensive but a good fix, with landlords not out of pocket, courts not congested, tenants not evicted and with payment plans in place to repay their debt.
Let’s see if the government does the right thing.
Terry Mason is COO of rent guarantor service Housing Hand.