Arrears have soared during the pandemic according to a lettings agency.
Birmingham-based Barrows and Forrester says government data suggests 335,860 homes - seven per cent of rental households - were at least one month behind on rent payments in the first part of the pandemic.
The average rent in England in July 2020 was £826 per month. This means the total rent arrears during wave one was at least £277.3 million. However, given that a number of households were more than one month in arrears, this is a relatively conservative figure.
During wave two of the pandemic, the number of households in at least one month’s arrears rose from seven to nine per cent which means wave two saw some 431,820 private rental households fall into arrears.
The average cost of renting was also higher during wave two than during wave one, rising from £826 to £846 per month. So, with almost 432,000 homes at least one month behind on rent, Barrows and Forrester estimates the cash total of arrears to have been at least £365.3 million.
The largest arrears growth was seen in the East Midlands, where between the first two waves of the pandemic, rent arrears increased by more than 36 per cent. In both the South West and the East, arrears increased by 35.6 per cent and in the South East, they grew by 35 per cent.
Agency chief James Forrester says: “We are starting to see normality return to the rental market but this will do little to comfort those landlords who are now severely out of pocket and should a third wave materialise, we will no doubt see yet another increase in the total amount of rental arrears seen across the market.”
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