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Many landlords ‘left between a rock and a hard place’

Most of private landlords who helped tenants during the pandemic by cutting their rents, absorbed the losses by dipping into savings according, research initiated by the National Residential Landlords Association suggests.

Some 61 per cent of landlords who, in the second quarter of the year, had offered at least one tenant a rent free or deferred rent period adopted this approach, research conducted by BVA/BDRC found.

Recent YouGov figures suggesting that 61 per cent of landlords rent out just one property, while 34 per cent are retired with rental income representing all or part of their pension. This means continued reliance on landlord savings to make up tenant shortfalls in income is not sustainable, said the NRLA.

Government data shows that in April-May this year, seven per cent of tenants in England, almost 800,000, were behind with their rent. This was more than double the number who said they were in arrears in 2019/20, before lockdown measures started.

‘These figures show the extent to which landlords have worked to sustain tenancies as a result of the pandemic, many at the expense of their retirement savings. But this cannot continue indefinitely’, said NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.

‘After months of calling on the Government to help tenants who through no fault of theirs got behind with their rent, we have welcomed the funding now made available to help those affected to pay off COVID rent debts.

‘It is now vital that councils ensure tenants who need it can access the funding swiftly. Without this, landlords will be left between a rock and a hard place; either expected to sustain rent arrears they cannot afford or to repossess their properties, neither of which we want to see’.