The latest survey assessing damage to the private rental sector by the pandemic makes tough reading for landlords.
The study - for the National Residential Landlords Association - suggests that almost two thirds of private landlords in England and Wales expect their business to be hit.
The survey of just over 2,000 association members suggests that 48 per cent feel they will face a ‘slightly’ negative impact to their business and 18 per cent will feel a ‘significant’ negative impact.
This has caused landlord confidence to fall with 56 per cent saying that they were less - or much less - confident of being able to achieve their goals over the next year, compared even to three months ago when the pandemic was already in play.
Investment decisions are being hit too.
Whilst 16 per cent of those surveyed said they planned to purchase at least one or more properties over the next year, 30 per cent said they intend to sell one or more properties.
The likely fall in the supply of rental homes comes as the survey found that 35 per cent of respondents said they had seen an increase in demand for private rented housing.
With a previous analysis by the NRLA having suggested that total private sector rent arrears as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in England could be up to £437m, the association is now demanding the government help tenants pay off virus-related arrears.
Following similar schemes developed in Spain, Wales and Scotland, the NRLA is calling for tenants in England to be able to access hardship loans to cover such arrears.
This would see loans available interest free and guaranteed by the government specifically to cover unpaid rents since lockdown measures began in March. Payments would be made directly to the landlord.
The NRLA’s survey has found that 78 per cent of respondents supported such a scheme.
Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive, adds: “Whilst the vast majority of landlords have been working constructively with their tenants where they have struggled due to the pandemic, it is not sustainable to expect them or tenants to continue having rent arrears building indefinitely.
“This is highlighted in the lower levels of confidence among landlords and the impact it is having on their businesses.
“Providing the financial support needed to help tenants pay off rent arrears built since lockdown started would cost the Government less than the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. As we head into more local lockdowns, it is even more important that tenants don’t have to worry about meeting their rent bill.”