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Agents key to supporting tenancies

7th August 2020

safeagents say there won’t be widespread evictions and arrears are lower than feared

Our latest research shows that with the support of letting agents to help maintain tenancies, safeagent firms do not believe there will be widespread evictions as a result of the pandemic.

In a survey of safeagent firms across England, 36% of firms said they didn’t believe any tenants would be evicted when the ban ends. A further 57% said it would be less than 10%. When asked what the reason was those tenants would face eviction, agents said it was not down to arrears built up during the pandemic, but instead planned proceedings or non-payment of rent before March 2020.

In terms of arrears, 74% of respondents said that the proportion of their tenants who have not been able to pay their rent over the past three months was less than 10%, while 10% said it was between 10-20% of tenants, and 8% said none of their tenants were in arrears.

For those who are in arrears, the majority of tenants were only behind by one or two months (42% and 44% respectively) while only 5% of firms said tenants had arrears of more than three months.

The highest causes of arrears were because tenants were self-employed (56%), or furloughed (53%), while 47% were waiting for Universal Credit. 31% were refusing to pay, with agents commenting that many of these tenants were already in arrears before lockdown.

Asked about the proportion of landlords who have been sympathetic and willing to help tenants affected by COVID-19, by offering rent reductions or payment plans, 47% of firms said 75-100% of their landlords were willing to help, showing a high level of support for tenants to allow them to stay in their homes.

In order to help maintain more tenancies and support both tenants and landlords, safeagent is calling for landlords to receive immediate direct payments when tenants move on to Universal Credit – rather than having to wait for two months arrears to occur. 89% of agents said this policy would alleviate landlords’ concerns about receiving rent from tenants who are having difficulties paying.

Commenting on the findings, Isobel Thomson, safeagent Chief Executive, said:

“These results show that the rhetoric emanating from lobbying groups around arrears and the likely number of tenants to be evicted as a result of their inability to pay rent, does not give the full picture. We know times are hard, but we also know how much good work is being done by agents and landlords to maintain tenancies. Agents are not seeing high numbers of tenants in arrears and they are reporting landlords being sympathetic and willing to work with their tenants to find solutions.

safeagent is concerned about the rhetoric around evictions which does tenants no favours and only raises their levels of anxiety at an already difficult time. Instead of demanding a halt to all evictions, shouldn’t we all be working together to find solutions that support tenants to stay in their homes?”

 

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