Every time a government minister extends the evictions ban or modifies the rules, a collective groan of frustration can be heard from many landlords.

While most understand that struggling tenants need to be protected from the economic ravages caused by Covid, and that the eviction bans is needed to stop the most vulnerable losing their homes, it doesn’t help landlords who have tenants using the ban to avoid paying rent.

The blanket nature of the current ban on bailiff evictions, the six-month notice period and severe restrictions on who can be evicted mean many landlords with deliberate rent dodgers whose cases are unconnected to pandemic-induced financial problems face an expensive. frustrating and ever-lengthening wait to get their properties back.

We spoke to one landlord, Andy Emery (pictured, above) from Peterborough to hear his story.

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He tells LandlordZONE that he’s had several tenants suffering financial challenges within his multi-property portfolio, and that he’s been flexible, working with them successfully to keep a roof over their heads.

Taking advantage

“But we had one middle-aged male tenant who was already well in arrears before the pandemic and since the evictions ban has clearly been sitting in the property taking advantage of the restrictions,” he says.

Emery says the man moved into the £500-a-month property in 2019 and paid his rent for four months but then, due to heavy drinking, lost his job. The rent payments also then stopped.

All communication from him also ceased so at the end of 2019 Emery served a Section 8 notice and secured a court date for February 5th last year which the tenant didn’t turn up to, at which point he had run up four months’ arrears.

“We were awarded possession and instructed bailiffs to evict on the 18th March, just before lockdown. The bailiffs turned up to find a note on his door saying he was self-isolating.

“After speaking to neighbours later that week, it was clear this wasn’t true but he had managed to delay things for two weeks (the period of the isolation) but then five days later England went into lockdown, so that was it.”

New date

Emery says that during the subsequent months, confusion among bailiffs and changing official messaging meant it took until mid-November to secure a new eviction date.

But no sooner had that happened than the Prime Minister announced the second lockdown, followed now by a third lockdown and eviction ban extension.

Emery is resigned to the fact that he will not get the tenant out for many months and is already sitting on 15 months of arrears and a loss of at least £8,000 in unpaid rent and costs.

“I’ve written to my MP about this and got a bog-standard response; I don’t think they or the government understand the fix many landlords are in with tenants like this,” says Emery.

“I realise this is an isolated case and that I can absorb the costs, but if I was a landlord with just one property this would be a financial disaster about which I could do nothing.

“There needs to provision within the evictions guidelines to prevent tenants like this taking the mickey.”



26 COMMENTS

  1. I heard on LBC radio, about a disabled landlady, who owns a shop which she rented out.

    The business, received payments from the Government due to COVID, but they did n’t pay the landlady her rent. The people who rent her shop has disappeared.

    She is stuck with no income. She can’t claim benefits, as she owns that shop (even though her rental income is £0.00).

    • I had someone claiming housing benefit and not passing on the rent to me. Took me months to evict her last year but managed to do so in the end. The system is simply awful!

  2. I don’t see how she owning a shop would prevent her from claiming UC, you can work and claim UC and they will adjust the payments based on her income..if she isn’t getting any income from the shop she would be entitled to the standard rate..I know the amount isn’t great but better than nothing.

  3. Ah! The landlord…the pariah of todays society. Politicians know that there’s no political points lost if landlords are having their balls screwed to the floor. Their attitude is that we knew the risks so get on with it.

    • Keith makes a good point. This disgusting band of today’s politicians see attacking landlords as a free lunch. It allows the politicians to look all cuddly and caring, whilst appealing to YOUNG people – their future voters. And yes, they also know, to quote the old Motown song, landlords have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

  4. This is unfortunately a familiar story. I personally have 1 in a similar position and my agency have 2 more the same.

    I welcome the support given to tenants in true, Covid caused financial problems. However, there are too many dodgy tenants using this as an excuse to live rent free.

    There has been zero thought given to the financial and mental stress this caused landlords. They are now left racking up substantial debt caused directly by government decisions, and the destruction of their credit ratings. This has the added effect of destroying credit ratings so preventing any future property investment.

    • agree completely with Andrew the Gov has foisted the problems of housing a large number of people onto the PRS expecting us to do it for free or in very risky circs of whether we get paid or not.

      We’re all in it together !!!!!! not really I wasn’t given a large PPE contract sadly

  5. I am an ‘accidental landlord’, renting out one property which I used to live in myself. My previous tenants moved out in November, and, despite needing the rental income, I feel that the current rules are so much in favour of tenants at the expense of landlords that I am too scared to let new tenants move in. I am self-employed, although my work has plummeted to the point that I am virtually unemployed at the moment. The rules allow for a situation that could see me with zero income from self-employment, tenants in the flat but zero rental income because they’re not paying rent, the inability to evict them and find tenants who are able to pay rent, plus the ongoing obligation and expense of maintaining the flat to comply with legislation for rental properties. And I could be in this situation and unable to claim Universal Credit because I own a flat, viewed as an asset, despite not being able to access the money that is tied up in it. I feel as though I’m being asked to gamble everything – my income and therefore the ability to meet payments on my own home that I live in – on whether or not I am a good enough judge of character to be able to tell whether a new tenant is honest, or whether they are likely to take advantage of the situation. Seriously, is that a risk that anyone should be asked to take?

    • Absolutely agree with this. I have a flat which is empty at the moment and it will remain so as the current legislation is so punitive to the landlord and I wouldn’t want the stress of having an opportunistic tenant I can’t evict. Can’t help thinking this is a really bad move by the government long term as many other decent landlords take a similar view, greatly reducing housing stock. The law of unintended consequences!

    • RW, you speak from my heart. I could have written this, I have exactly the same situation, even down to that my tenants vacated the flat in November. I’m scared to accept new tenants and don’t know what to do.
      Is there anyone else out there in the same boat? What can we do to stop this witch hunt against landlords? Many of us small landlords depend on the income from the one or two flats we rent out. How can we get recognition and respect that renting out a property is a business as every other business? Any ideas?

  6. When will the government stop this hate campaign against landlords???
    The failed eviction of my troublesome tenant was due on 25 March. I was then able to claim some of her benefits until she moved out in July, but she decided to keep the tenancy on to use my house as a storage facility until a relative persuaded her to surrender it on 17 October. This deprived me of rental income for a further few months and made it impossible for me to take legal possession during that time. Many landlords, including Mr Emery, have no doubt been much further disadvantaged by the government’s folly.
    I have since been granted a CCJ against her, but now note that debtors are soon to be granted a “breathing space”. What about a breathing space for landlords with only one or two properties and no alternative income, who rely on the rent? Many need the rent to top up an inadequate pension. They are not entitled to benefits as they own properties they do not live in, and no government grant can be given to cover their situation, as they are considered to be investors rather than self-employed.
    Furthermore, this non-payment of rent is THEFT. If you steal a loaf of bread from the supermarket, that is a criminal offence. If you don’t pay the landlord, it is considered “just a civil matter”. What’s the difference? Instead of hammering the landlord, why can’t the government deal with the wrongdoers?

    • Technically you are right, but that’s not the whole story. Unfortunately, tenants could argue the same case: landlord steal the full rent from them whilst leaving the property they rented out in a bad state of disrepair and neglect. Tenants can’t just stop paying rent becuase the landlord won’t do the work. It also seems to me that landlords expect tenants to take on the financial responsibility for matters that they are not responsible for – such a replacing white goods that were rented out to them but have since broken down through basic wear and tear and still claiming ownership of the replacement, withhholding deposits becuase the carpet is soiled due to natural and anticipated traffic, expecting tenants to deep clean the flat when they leave. That is ridiculous. These are all landlord costs that form part and parcel of owning a rental property and should be costed accordingly.

      • Bel, you will be surprised that the majority of landlords are looking after their property and their tenants. I certainly view it that I give someone a home and they should feel at home. Sadly, there are tenants who don’t treat it as their home, trash it and soil it and disrespect the landlord as a person. If the tenant chose a bad property or landlord, they can move. If the landlord chose a bad tenant, they are stuck with them and have to put up with all sort of abuse and can’t do anything about it. I’ve been there, I speak of experience.

  7. Not to mention paying full council tax during at the full rate even for sole owners, even when tenants have left the property in dire need of repair, you still pay and no relief if uninhabitable still pay.
    Reason given is that councils want properties occupied as soon as possible and not left empty.

  8. The situation for landlords is absolutely scary. I have had a number of problems with my tenants.
    1. 2 flats were empty from February/March 2020 until they were let out around August 2020 having spent nearly £6k on refurbishing due to the tenants having left the flats in a terrible state. Additionally lost around £13k in rent as they were empty. These could not be let sooner due to the COVID-19 evictions ban.
    2. There are rent arrears on 3 flats amounting to nearly £14k. The tenant in one of these flats was receiving Universal Credit but did not pay the rent. We wrote to the Croydon Benefits department and we have not even had an acknowledgement from them. Can’t get through to them on the phone. It seems to me that they are just not bothered. Have had to spend nearly £20k on 2 of the flats refurbishing to make them rentable
    3. As universities have been closed due to lockdown, student flats have been empty and will most likely achieve NIL income this year
    6. Landlords have continued to pay the FULL Council tax, utility charges etc on empty flats some of which are not even habitable due to the state that they have been left in by the vacating tenants. And Croydon council have no sympathy for these landlords.

    And the government thinks that landlords are cash rich. This is indeed not the case. I fully sympathise with those landlords who invested their lifetime income in properties to earn retirement income and this is the only source of income for them. These landlords are being left to go into poverty. The recent tax changes for landlords including abolition of Wear & Tear allowance, abolition of tax relief on the loan interest, Property Licensing etc have exacerbated the problem for landlords.

    Most businesses, employees etc continue to receive great assistance from the government in the form of grants and interest free loans BUT THE LANLORDS HAVE BEEN FORGOTTEN AND LEFT TO FIGHT FOR THEIR SURVIVAL ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT ANY SUPPORT WHATSOEVER. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak should appreciate that the Private Landlords are doing a great service for this country. If this rental sector goes down this country will be left with a huge number of homeless people littering its, especially in and around London – and UK is short of housing already!!. IS THIS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS? BORIS JOHNSON AND RISHI SUNAK – PLEASE HAVE SOME SENSE AND DO SOMETHING FOR THE LANDLORDS otherwise get ready to face the huge challenges going ahead!!

  9. I totally agree with all the people this morning who have made comments about the dire situation for landlords in this country and the drastic legislation by the government working against the landlords. I hope the government will listen to the plight and dilemma being faced by the landlords AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. WE NEED HELP!!!

  10. Wonder if it is possible for landlords to launch a class action against the government for effectively sanctioning theft and making it impossible for people to get redress through the courts, which – even when functioning – are not fit for purpose & deliberately delaying on evictions so as to avoid making people homeless.
    I have every sympathy with tenants are genuinely in distress, but it is obvious from this forum that there many decent, caring and ethical landlords who are also in distress, but the tenant’s needs are being put above theirs.
    I think some of the comments on this website should be forwarded to the Housing Minister so that he feel the pain that decent landlords are feeling, and start to figure out the consequences. The end result wil be that the rental market is dominated by big corporations and the few landlords who really are evil rogues.

    • Any objective analysis would conclude the way landlords have been lumbered with the cost of meeting the welfare needs of their tenants absolutely fails any fairness test. Perhaps there is a legal argument governing fairness or perhaps discrimination. On the discrimination front, one could argue landlords are disproportionately older and therefor we suffer indirect discrimination since tenants are given priority over landlords.

  11. We (landlords) have no clout. Sure, we have the likes of NRLA and a small handful of other landlord advocacy groups but, other than lip-service, no one is listening. Ideally, landlords would form their own union. With a substantial membership and the ability to take collective action we would command influence. But most landlords have one property and are not inclined to engage. NRLA has 65k members, but this only represents about 2.5% of the total 2.5m landlords. NRLA should lower their fees and have a massive drive to grow their membership to 1m, then we’d hold some sway. I am not a member, but I would join if I knew they had a clear policy of growing their membership with the stated intention of defending landlords against the ever-increasing raft of anti-landlord legislation and sentiment.

    • I don’t imagine NRLA would be interested. They are a business and those at the top are doing vey nicely, so why would they rock the boat? We are on our own and the State will do what they will. The only way there will be a reversal of this trend is when the PRS has been hollowed-out to the point there are serious problems with shortages of rentals. At which point the State will chuck a bunch of incentives to their corporate buddies in the Build-To-Rent sector. Meantime, many small investors looking to supplement their pensions would have been excluded from the market.

  12. I’m selling up. There is nothing left here for small private landlords – minimum EPC and cost of upgrading (why? I don’t have to upgrade my own home??), tenants on benefits but not paying their rent etc etc.

    The actions of the government clearly tell us that they want us to sell up. Fine, Let them worry about housing people when property availability drops by 50%. Let people rent from commercial landlords and feel the love there (not).

  13. We are stuck with our flats until they eventually clamber out of negative equity. We have put practically everything we earn into renovating and repairing them after a series of vile tenants smashed the flats up, accrued arrears, grew drugs, made excuses, and terrorised the neighbours. Because we have put all that self-employed income to that use, we have made virtually no profit in our housekeeping business, so the SEISS grants were so low they were laughable. We are so badly in debt I can’t see the end of it! Especially as our self-employment has now dried up due to covid restrictions. I am attempting a Universal Credit claim, but frankly I am not holding my breath. If we behaved to our mortgage companies the way some tenants have behaved to us, we’d probably be in prison by now. Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. One gets fed in prison, and I think one gets let off paying council tax! Anyone know any helpful criminals willing to offer tuition?

  14. How would it feel if I could go into Sainburys, fill up my trolley and walk out without paying, and then not only have not to pay but a system doing nothing about it. The private landlord has been used as a whipping boy for 50 years of governments that have neglected the housing crisis. And with the number of people coming into the country, it’s going to get a lot worse.

  15. It’s worth bearing in mind the vast amount of income tax and capital gains tax generated by the private rental sector. If the bottom falls out of that sector because landlords decide to sell up, the government stands to lose a vast amount of revenue. Anyone have any idea how much tax is generated on an annual basis? I don’t, but I bet it’s a LOT. It’s actually in the government’s interest to support landlords and tenants alike. Owner-occupied homes don’t generate tax for them in the same way that the private rental sector does. Whilst I’m all for supporting a safe and fair system, I’m not sure I want to be part of a system where I feel as though I need a degree in property law to stay on top of the ever-changing legislation, alongside hostage negotiation skills to be able to regain possession of a property that I own.

  16. My view is that the government do not want anyone to own anything by 2030 so this is why they have been giving landlords a hard time for the past few years.

    They want to frustrate landlords to sell up.

    These eviction bans are all part of that.

    Despite providing housing in the PRS, they don’t care about landlords.

    This whole scamdemic is to reset the financial world and cut out the middle class, small/medium businesses, landlords included.

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