Those renting their homes from private landlords are now less likely to suffer from a serious build-up of late rent, according to the latest Tenant Arrears Tracker by estate agency chains Your Move and Reeds Rains.
By the final quarter of 2015, a net 1,500 households have moved out of serious rent arrears, compared to Q3. This is a 1.5% quarter-on-quarter improvement, and reverses some of a deteriorating trend throughout the earlier parts of 2015. There are now 82,900 households behind on more than two months’ rent, down from 84,200 in Q3 2015.
While correcting an emerging upward trend, the latest quarterly improvement still represents a worsening on an annual basis. The number of tenants in serious rent arrears remains 19.5% higher than in Q4 2015.
However as a proportion of the entire market, the latest total still represents just 1.6% of tenancies across the UK private rented sector. This compares to a peak proportion of 2.9% of tenants in Q1 2008. The absolute number of tenants in serious arrears is also mild on a historical basis, considerably below the record 116,600 such cases seen in Q3 2012.
Adrian Gill, director of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, said: “Private renting is still absorbing thousands of extra households every month – housing millions more than just a few years ago. As this tenure of housing and this way of living grows, affordability is the issue that goes hand-in-hand with questions of capacity.
“An individual tenant is still extremely unlikely to fall into serious rent arrears. In fact the proportion of renters getting seriously behind on payments has dropped considerably over the longer term. But absolute numbers are now going the right way too. With fewer people at risk from more serious consequences of struggling to pay the rent, this is great news.”
Meanwhile, in the same quarter of Q4 2015, there were a total of 26,676 court orders issued for the eviction of tenants, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This is down marginally by 0.4% compared to Q3, when seasonally adjusted eviction orders stood at 26,775. On an annual basis, downward progress for evictions is more considerable, with 5.3% fewer evictions than 28,167 a year before in Q4 2014. The latest figures for evictions represent 32% of the stock of tenants in severe arrears in Q4, meaning only around one-in-three such cases translate into evictions each quarter.
Cases of landlords falling behind on their own financial commitments are also diminishing. As of Q4 2015 there were 5,500 examples of buy-to-let mortgage arrears, down by 3.5% from 5,700 in Q3, and a resumption of downward progress after the figure previously remained the same between Q2 and Q3 2015.
On an annual basis, progress for landlords’ finances has been far more considerable. The number of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears has dropped by 54% since standing at 11,900 cases in Q4 2014.