The BBC has claimed that the Covid possession restrictions due to end tomorrow have enabled a lot of ‘terrible tenants who otherwise might have been evicted to stay put’.
Its Radio 4 You and Yours programme featured a landlord called Graham who is now owed £13,000 in rent arrears after his tenant reduced and then delayed her rent payments as soon as the more relaxed approach to evictions was introduced by the government 18 months ago.
He related the psychological stress of not knowing whether he was going to get any income at all as his tenant refused to communicate about her arrears.
The most troubling of the Covid measures in England was to require landlords and letting agent to give six months’ notice before issuing an eviction notice, with exceptions only given for extreme rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
This six-month rule will now revert to the pre-Covid two months’ notice, something evictions expert Paul Shamplina, who was interviewed during the Your and Yours programme, reckons will prompt a surge of new eviction attempts by landlords in the coming weeks.
He told the programme, which also interviewed a tenant facing eviction over £1,000 rent arrears, that evictions were already up by 43% year-on-year at his firm Landlord Action.
Shamplina also told the programme that many landlords had worked with tenants and offered either rent deferrals or reductions.
“Evicting a tenant should be a measure of last resort – a good tenant rarely turns into a bad one overnight,” said Shamplina.
But he said that, during his 30 years working with landlords and letting agents, he’s never seen rent arrears levels as high as they are at the moment.
“We have one case where a landlord is owed £144,000 in rent arrears, and many of our landlord clients are owed 12 months’ rent arrears with little prospect of getting that money back,” he added.
“Smaller portfolio landlords can’t be tenant ‘banks’ forever; at some point they have to cut their losses and find a new person who can pay the rent.”
Peter Tutton from debt charity StepChange (pictured) was also on the programme, said that his organisation had not seen the spike in rent arrears that other organisations predicted, but that nevertheless there is huge financial pressure on many households, the 200,000 at risk of losing their homes.