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Landlords lose £9.9 billion to rent arrears and damage every year

A law firm specialising in landlord law claims landlords are losing £9.9bn to rent arrears and property damage each year.

Access Legal’s latest Landlord Report says tenants do £4.5bn damage to rental properties each year.

The news follows a renewed attack on the private rented sector by Shelter. The housing charity claimed that 125,000 tenants have suffered abusive behaviour from landlords in the past year. Shelter reported last week that some tenants have had belongings burned while others have had utility services cut off in efforts to intimidate them.


Access Legal said there was another side to the story. It calculated that £9.9bn is spent by landlords covering damage, repairs and rent arrears each year. This equates to £6,600 for every landlord in the UK.

Access Legal claimed almost half (46%) of tenants in rent arrears fail to pay up even after court proceedings.

The research found that a third of landlords (33%) feel the law sides with tenants. Three-quarters of buy-to-let investors also stated that they don’t feel money is safe with letting agents, and half (43%) of landlords have dropped their letting agents to save money and avoid safety issues.

Eamonn Hogan, solicitor at Access Legal, said: “We work with many landlords covering tenant and landlord disputes. The extortionate cost of being a landlord seems to be a figure that keeps growing. Many landlords are subject to damaged properties and rent arrears. The law doesn’t always side with tenants, but it’s a hard process for landlords to go through and a tricky legal system.”

The five most common causes of damage to a property are:

  • Broken appliances (41%)
  • Damaged decorating (40%)
  • Damaged carpets (37%)
  • Lack of cleanliness (33.18%)
  • Cigarette burns (22%)

The study found that almost half (40%) of landlords have been subject to a tenant not paying rent and one in five (20%) landlords have been subject to vandalism.

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  • Kenny Sahota

    Before signing up to be a landlord, it's important they're aware that there can be hiccups along the way! Damage to property can be frequent, although all of this can be made a lot more stress-free if you get in the help of an experienced property management company. Often the law sides with the tenant, so it's important landlords are protected.

  • icon

    Very dramatic findings, makes for eye-catching headlines. But I don't think it accurately reflects reality. 2,000 landlords were polled, presumably landlords who Access Legal had access to because of legal matters... does this not suggest that these landlords will have had a rougher time than the average? Extrapolating the data from this minority of landlords who needed specialist legal help and applying it with a broad brush to ALL landlords is -- if that is what has been done -- very misleading indeed.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    I'll use any statistics of Tenants behaviour I can get my hands on.
    What games do you think Shelter play with numbers ?

  • icon
    • 08 May 2019 22:02 PM

    Of course a major issue with these rogue tenant issues is the loss of tax to HMRC.
    Now just imagine this £9.9 billion of losses didn't occur!!
    The tax take by the Treasury would be considerably more!!

    So it could be fairly reasonably stated that rogue tenants are costing the UK Govt billions in lost tax revenues.
    Clearly the losses that LL suffer from rogue tenants are offset against taxable income.
    The less taxable income the less tax the Treasury receives.
    I would imagine that if rogue tenants were prevented from causing so many losses that there would be considerably more tax receipts.
    Now what might the UK Govt determine to do with these increased tax receipts!?........................Oh! I don't know; perhaps fund social housing............................just a thought!!
    Of course to achieve this the Govt would need to implement a fast track eviction process to ensure that rent defaulting tenants may be removed without Court action after 1 month and 1 day which would be 2 months of rent arrears if rent is paid in advance monthly.
    As far as I am aware Govt is not actively planning to speed up the eviction process which would have the effect of generating additional considerably increased tax receipts.
    What wouldn't there be to like here from a Govt perspective!!?
    Facilitate LL to get rid of rogue rent defaulting tenants and garner far more tax receipts from LL.
    Seems a no-brainer to me!!
    Of course with such timely evictions Councils would have to find TA for such rogue tenants.

    If S21 is abolished then when such Rogue tenants present themselves to the Council they will be deemed to have rendered themselves INTENTIONALLY HOMELESS because of rent default and that the Council has no housing duty towards these rogue wrongun tenants.
    Poetic justice wouldn't you say!?
    Be very interesting to see how Councils react when being presented by such rogue rent defaulting tenants.
    It is clearly in the Govt's best interests to garner as much tax revenue as possible.
    Clearly the way the eviction process is presently constructed rogue rent defaulting tenants are costing HMRC billions in lost tax revenue.
    Bizarrely Govt doesn't seem to be that concerned at the losses the PATHETIC eviction process causes HMRC.
    Clearly more robust referencing processes might reduce the numbers of rent defaulting tenants.
    But LL and LA know they do NOT need to pay ANYTHING for referencing.
    They just advise tenants that unless they provide aTenant Referencing Passport then the tenant won't be considered.
    It is then up to the tenants whether they wish to be considered.
    For this to be achieved tenants would have to pay about £60 pp or per guarantor.
    But that would be all they needed to pay.
    They could then tout their TRP to any number of LA and LL.
    If the TRP was of sufficient standard it might even qualify the tenant for RGI.
    Now that would make the perfect tenant applicant!!
    It would NOT be a requirement by LL and LA to purchase their TRP.
    If they don't they simply wouldn't be considered as would be their prerogative!!


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