Bright lights amid gloomy covid outlook – landlords’ helping hand for tenants

Bright lights amid gloomy covid outlook – landlords’ helping hand for tenants

SUMMARY

This survey was conducted by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) over the first weekend in May. It is largely, though not entirely a survey of members.

This report considers the responses of the 4,566 current and active landlords who participated in the survey.

A picture is emerging of a Private Rented Sector in which a high proportion of landlords, like many of their tenants are feeling the strain. However, the majority of landlords are showing resilience.  The actions of landlords mean a housing crisis has so far been averted. 

The report concludes the next steps are crucial to the sector: as debt and voids rise landlords may find themselves running out of options. The challenge for government in the private rented housing market, as with other economic sectors, is to withdraw economic support for sector participants as painlessly as possible. 

Rental streams & loss of income

More than 54% of landlords have experienced some form of income drop in at least part of their portfolio as a direct result of coronavirus. This income loss is now starting to become substantial.

Propensity to resort to legal redress

Despite the loss of income and drop in rent payments, landlords are not as yet, preparing to seek redress through the courts – even in “worst case” examples of tenant debt.
Just 4% of landlords have served a notice under either Section 8 or Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act.

Landlords’ own financial position

A substantial proportion of landlords (22%) have themselves experienced significant reductions in employment income and opportunity in the wake of lockdown restrictions.

A considerable number of landlords also rely on their properties for their own rental income and these landlords too are often struggling. Landlords also have unexpected Council Tax bills as void properties remain unexpectedly vacant for longer.

Tenant negotiation and requests

Where a tenant has requested some change in payment or terms to their tenancy because of the coronavirus, over 90% of landlords are responding positively.
To date, around 44% of landlords stated they have received at least one request from a tenant to reprofile their terms and conditions in some way.

Getting through the crisis

Landlords have often been more than willing to go the extra mile and support their tenants. There are many acts of landlord generosity and support – often at financial cost to landlords.

Mortgage holidays & rent guarantee insurance

Very few landlords have applied so far for a mortgage holiday, although there is a greater proportion giving an application at least some consideration. If a substantial proportion of those “considering” an application then feel the need to do so, or more tenancies slide into arrears, then this proportion could rise into something quite significant.
Note that by and large rent guarantee insurance has been, so far at least, an irrelevant factor to landlords.

Access to property

One-third of all landlords have experienced difficulties in gaining access to property to undertake safety checks, maintenance and home improvements.

Gas safety and scheduled property improvements are posing the biggest challenges. Some landlords are concerned about falling foul of safety and licensing legislation.

Nick Clay

Nick Clay MSc, PgDip is the lead Research Officer for the NRLA, having previously worked for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). Before joining the RLA Nick had a successful career working for various consultancy companies, Whitehall and academia. He has specialised in advising clients on business support, promoting entrepreneurship and evaluating labour market initiatives. Nick worked as a Senior Economist for a large multi-national consultancy advising Whitehall and City Regions on major infrastructure projects.