A poll of letting agents has revealed that two thirds report up to 10% of their tenants have rent arrears.
The survey by industry accreditation scheme Safeagent suggests that although rent arrears rates are higher than the usual 3-5% seen within the private rental sector in normal times, the tsunami predicted at the beginning of the Covid pandemic has yet to materialise.
Safeagent says 21% of agents reported between 10% and 20% of their tenants in arrears while 7% said they had none.
Among tenants who were in arrears, letting agents reported that a significant majority were either one and two months’ behind (39% and 33%) while 13% said tenants had arrears of more than three months.
The vast majority of agents (86%) said landlords were happy to offer struggling tenants payment plans, while a quarter had tried mediation.
But when support plans failed, a fifth had decided to sell their property rather than risk further exposure to the downturn, and nearly 40% had moved to evict.
Agents reported that most rent arrears were the result of a tenant losing their job and that the furlough scheme ending, along with the ongoing curbs on evictions, are causing significant concerns and complications. A small but significant number of those in rent arrears have refused to pay their rent, rather than giving a reason for their arrears
Isobel Thomson, Safeagent Chief Executive (above), says: “Clearly our sector is facing tough times, but where tenants are in difficulty, it is clear that agents are working to support tenants and landlords in finding solutions to repay arrears and keep people in their homes.”