A number of buy-to-let landlords have worked closely with tenants to support those in rent arrears as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, but ultimately, “it isn’t the responsibility of UK landlords to take this financial hit”, according to a leading letting agent.
Renters across England and Wales received greater protection in mid-June after the government extended the suspension of new evictions until the latter part of next month, taking the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months. The move was designed to ensure that renters continue to have certainty and security during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But with the ban on evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic set to an end on 23 August, allowing landlords to start proceedings to evict tenants if deemed necessary, some renters facing financial hardship could potentially lose their homes unless the government takes urgent action to better support them.
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, commented:“Many will have found themselves in financial trouble due to the current pandemic, with some unable to pay their rent as a result and there’s no doubt this is a terrible situation to be in.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t the responsibility of UK landlords to take this financial hit on behalf of their tenants and to expect them to continue to is somewhat unfair, considering they have already done so for some months having had no choice in the matter.
“Those tenants who have found themselves in financial hardship due to the coronavirus have now had time to seek alternative living arrangements without the pressure of eviction. In any other scenario, it’s unlikely they would have been afforded this luxury.
“It’s also incredibly unfair not to consider the landlord in this scenario as many are reliant on rental payments in order to survive and have had no choice but to swallow this loss of income due to the eviction ban.”
von Grundherr acknowledges that there will be a few unscrupulous landlords wanting to evict their tenants, but most have acted in good faith.
He added: “The reality is that the vast majority of landlords have been working with their tenants to reach an agreement that suits all parties, in what has been a tough few months for all. So the reports that many will now end up without a home are perhaps a tad exaggerated at the very least.
“In contrast, some landlords have been held to ransom by unsavoury tenants who have seen an opportunity to play the game knowing they can’t be evicted.”
von Grundherr says that his firm has a landlord client who is currently £50,000 out of pocket and while the end of the eviction ban means he can now start proceedings, given the backlog, he is unlikely to even get a court date for three if not four months.
He continued: “If he gets an eviction date it is likely to take another three or four months to get the bailiffs in, so he may have to wait up to eight months to get his property back and by then he will be another £50,000 out of pocket.
“This will be an issue that will now plague the rental market for many months and as ever, landlords are the ones getting hit by ill-thought-out initiatives
“As with most aspects of current life, returning to normality isn't an easy process and there are no quick fixes in many cases. However, return to reality we must and removing the ban on rental evictions is the next, necessary step in doing this within the property industry.”