Members of the Norwich-based Eastern Landlords Association (ELA) have ended up doing repairs and even building work themselves after struggling to get materials and qualified tradespeople during the pandemic.

Chairman Charles Clarke (pictured) has had to do some of his own property maintenance this year while another director has ended up working on a planned extension himself because there was no one available.

“We need more skilled people,” he tells LandlordZONE. “Covid has made a bad situation much worse, while there’s also the problem of tenants isolating because landlords still need to get repairs done or send gas repair people into properties.”

Rent difficulties

He reckons up to 40% of the ELA’s 1,400 members have been affected by tenants in difficulty paying rent, and while many have come to an agreement about payment terms, others are frustrated about the evictions ban.

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Its helpline currently gets three or four members a week contacting it for help and advice, often about arrears or evictions. “One member is dealing with a tenant who hasn’t paid rent for nearly two years,” says Clarke.

“You do hear some plausible excuses but there’s definitely a climate of young people living today and paying tomorrow which makes the situation worse. It’s a very difficult time as you don’t know which of your tenants will get into financial difficulty.”

Student caution

Another Covid-related change he’s seen is that landlords are more cautious when it comes to student lets and now ask for a guarantor when they might not have bothered before.

He admits that this year has left some members feeling despondent, while there’s a general mood of resignation.

Adds Clarke: “The Government has done nothing to help landlords, on the back of ending mortgage tax relief and absorbing extra costs from safety checks it feels like they’re trying to get money out of us in any way possible, despite the fact we’re fulfilling a social need. Some members are now selling up because of all the hassle.”

The ELA includes landlords with properties in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Anglia.

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