Senior lettings industry figure Zoe Bywater has warned landlords that they should consider getting rent guarantee insurance before the government’s furlough scheme ends.
Bywater, who is a Belvoir lettings agent, told listeners to a webinar today hosted by property maintenance platform Fixflo that many landlords and letting agents were becoming apprehensive about what happens when the furlough scheme ends on 31st April.
After that date employers face paying the salaries in full of the approximately nine million staff who are supported by the scheme at the moment.
“One of the interesting things for me is that people getting into rent arrears at the moment are the usual suspects, and I think agents and landlords listening to this webinar will know what I mean by that,” she says.
“And at the moment out of my portfolio I’ve only got one tenants who is in rent arrears due to Covid after being furloughed.
“I just don’t think anyone including referencing companies know how the end of the furlough scheme is going to shake out in May.”
Consequently, Bywater is counselling other agents and landlords to try and plan ahead because, although it “might cost a few hundred pounds, it takes some of that worry away”.
But getting rent guarantee insurance isn’t as easy as it used to be. Policies rely on landlords being able to evict tenants and many require them to service Section 21 notices on tenants in order to receive pay-outs.
Although bailiff eviction are suspended until February 21st 2021 and landlords must give six months’ notice before possession action can begin, Section 21 notices can still be served, satisfying the requirements of rent guarantee policies.
Evictions expert Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action agrees with Bywater. He told a PropertyTribes webinar yesterday that landlord are going to have to undertake more robust tenant referencing, ask tenants for guarantors or take out rent guarantee insurance to weather the coming storm.
“Rent guarantee insurance has become more expensive during Covid as the risk has increased, but you have to balance that against gaining peace of mind – because it’s the best part of a year to evict a tenant at the moment.”
Read a guide to rent guarantee insurance.