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Sharp rise in rental arrears as 300,000 tenants fail to pay on time

More than 300,000 tenants failed to pay their rent on time last month, new research from Goodlord suggests. 

The study by the rental market technology firm, on behalf of Telegraph Money, found that almost one in every 15 renters fell behind with payments in May. 

Some 6.6% of 16,000 properties surveyed were in arrears of at least one week, up from 5.8% in April and the typical rate of 4%. 

With 4.6 million private rented households in the country, the 6.6% arrears rate suggests that more than 300,000 tenants are now behind with payments.

The coronavirus pandemic has contributed significantly to the surge in rent arrears as many tenants face financial hardship.

Research by housing charity Shelter suggests that one in five renters in England are likely to lose their job within the next three months. 

Despite the spike in rent arrears, this should not necessarily lead to a hike in immediate evictions, according to Franz Doerr, CEO of flatfair. 

The government has paused eviction proceedings until 25 June and has also temporarily extended notice periods for some tenancy types to three months. But it is not yet clear what, if any, alternative measures will be put in place post 25 June, and as a consequence, Citizens Advice is telling people who are struggling to pay their rent to get in touch with their landlord and try to negotiate a reduction.

Doerr said: "As more firms start to furlough staff and others cease trading due to the economic impact of the virus, swathes of young renters up and down the country will see their incomes plummet and may not be able to pay their rent. The mounting rent arrears crisis will get worse before it gets better.

“This may, in turn, see many landlords struggling to meet their own obligations such as mortgage repayments.

"Landlords and tenants alike need to be given the space to negotiate repayment plans that ensure that everyone is treated fairly.”

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    Honouring the rental agreement is treating everyone fairly. Anything else disadvantages one party to the agreement.

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    Well I have just one that has not paid this month, she has until the 25th to pay then the eviction process will begin .


    Start all the paperwork that you can - NOW!
    I bet you will not get paid on 25th!


    How about cut the tenant some slack? How would you feel in the same situation? I have 3 properties 1 hasn’t paid I’ve seen proof of redundancy and a furlough that’s enough for me.


    Well I have just been paid 2/3 of the rent due with a promise of the balance due by Tuesday, so good on her so far

  • Dawn Wellam

    Your lucky I've got one who hasn't paid for three months and has very little communication with the letting agents I use.Plus he makes excuses for me to carry out the EPC which is overdue.This tenant is also on a periodic contract and has only 5 months left on tenancy.Now I have to resort to paying a repossession firm.


    Hi Dawn an Epc is still valid with an existing tenant. If the tenant is on a periodic contract that means the fixed term has run out. Your agent should really be doing more. What is the tenants reason to not pay?


    Move on it very fast. Tell your tenant you will be doing it. Start the paperwork ASAP.
    Follow it with a CCJ as soon as you can, as that will give your tenant a real problem.

    Inform your Letting Agent and all other Letting Agents in the area that this tenant is a crook and non payer. Put it in the local classifieds too.

    Keep chasing and chasing......You do NOT need to the EPC every years. Only the GAs Certificate is needed annually.

    Good luck...but keep on their heads...It is your right to get your house back or the money.

  • Dawn Wellam

    Actually just covid19 and his supposedly on going illness.I am residing in Rome Italy and that's why I paid for a so- called full management.All I was getting from them is I can't do anything.So I've contacted possession friend as my agents aren't that worried about me loosing money.Thanks for you help.

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    I think you need to do much more research, the people doing the research are not LL's just more people in suits. I know its far worse than 1 in 5 or in my case 4 in 5 wont cover it, only 2 lots up to date one lot NHS workers & other on Benefit, all others pay reduced amount I suspect in some cases because of Government interference, some are paying 50% of the rent, others paying nothing needless to say its now serious arrears about £17k & rising fast. I think the self-employed are the worst hit as work stopped over night. I think they will get used to the idea of not paying full rent a slippery slope indeed and some have said to me you'll be alright they have this mad idea that I will be getting Government money as if. I think your Digital Academics for Telegraph Money needs to think again.

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    Charlie.....cut them some slack? What slack do you get from the government?
    Do you really think they will pay back the arrears? Dream on.....

    They signed a joint agreement with you. They should now abide by that commitment.

    No quarter should be held

    Sorry.......Life is tough, very tough and you need to take care of No. 1

  • Paul Barrett

    Surely it should be the case that tenants ensure the LL has the opportunity to operate as an effective business!?

    So what tenants should do is invite the LL round to discuss matters.
    Or do it over a video call.
    So the tenant fully declares all their current circumstances.

    The tenant may be able to make some of the rent etc.
    It will be for the LL to make a business decision on whether he wishes to retain a tenant who after all remains liable for expensive things like Council Tax and utility standing charges.

    If the tenant vacates then IMMEDIATELY the LL is liable.

    So tenants should offer to vacate IMMEDIATELY but leave it for the LL to decide if they wish to retain the tenant.
    Quite a few LL will wish to retain tenants as there will be few new tenants currently.

    I think perhaps tenants should state they will remain but leave IMMEDIATELY the LL has sourced a replacement.
    That gives the opportunity for the tenant to source another LL if indeed their LL does wish them to leave.
    In the vast majority of cases tenants will be able to pay something which would probably be far preferable than just vacating leaving the LL liable for all the empty property costs.

    Lets us say a LL has 5 properties with the tenants all offering to vacate IMMEDIATELY.
    The LL agrees and now has 5 lots of

    Council tax
    Tv licence
    Utility standing charges

    To pay.
    Not an inconsiderable amount.
    I doubt there are many tenants currently seeking new LL.
    So perhaps in the overall scheme of things for many LL it makes business sense to retain tenants even if not receiving the full contractual rent.

    The point being that invariably the tenant might resume normal work and then arrange with the LL to catch up on rent arrears.

    I seriously doubt even if the tenants offered to vacate that LL wholesale would accept such an offer.

    LL are far more pragmatic than that and the idea that LL would engage in mass requests for tenants to vacate is for the birds.

    Most of the tenants currently rent defaulting wouldn't under normal circumstances be rent defaulting.
    LL are practical people who would much prefer to discuss with tenants their situation and wouldn't normally respond with a knee jerk reaction to require the tenant to vacate.
    But it should be for the LL to determine whether they wish to retain a tenant and NOT for a tenant to force the situation by refusing to vacate if required by the LL.

    EVEN if the tenant isn't paying rent they are acting as a sort of property guardian and if the LL is unable to source new tenants leaving the rent defaulting tenant in place could be the wisest business decision for the LL.

    Obviously every tenancy will be different and LL would need to take full regard of each tenants particular curcimstances.

    So quite frankly even if tenants offered to vacate I doubt that many LL would want that to occur.
    There are many sides in owning a rental property.
    Being paid rent is just one of them albeit a very significant one!!

    But I say to tenants do the honourable thing and offer to vacate if the LL after discussion doesn't wish to retain you.
    My contention would be that many tenants would pleasantly surprised that in the majority of cases their LL wouldn't wish them to vacate.
    Just give the LL the opportunity to make a business decision.


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