Rental demand increases while landlords opt to sell

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Landlords appear to be dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis in their stride. Well over half have told the latest National Residential Landlord’s Association survey that the Coronavirus has not so far had any significant impact on their business.

Surprisingly, only a fifth of landlords said the virus had had a ‘significant’ impact in the last three months. Meanwhile, a third reported an increase over the previous three months in the demand for private rented housing.

Even so, almost half of landlords said the virus had had at least some negative impact and most said they had less confidence about the future.

Of the 2,000 landlords questioned, over half – 56 per cent – said they were less, or much less, confident of being able to achieve their goals over the next year. Consequently, while one in six of those surveyed said they planned to purchase at least one or more additional properties over the next year, twice as many said they intend to sell one or more properties.

Previous NRLA analysis suggested total private sector rent arrears resulting from the Coronavirus Crisis could now be as high as £437m in England, and the association said it is now time for the Government to help sustain the rented property market by providing financial support to help tenants pay off COVID-related rent arrears.

‘Following similar schemes developed in Spain, Wales and Scotland, the NRLA is calling for tenants in England to be able to access hardship loans to cover such arrears’, it said. ‘This would see loans available interest-free and guaranteed by the Government specifically to cover unpaid rents since lockdown measures began in March. Payments would be made directly to the landlord’.

NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle said that whilst the majority of landlords have been working constructively with tenants who have struggled financially due to the pandemic, it is not sustainable to allow rent arrears to continue to increase indefinitely.

‘This is highlighted in the lower levels of confidence among landlords and the impact it is having on their businesses’, he said. ‘Providing the financial support needed to help tenants pay off rent arrears built since lockdown started would cost the Government less than Eat Out to Help Out. As we head into more local lockdowns, it is even more important that tenants don’t have to worry about meeting their rent bill’.

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