The number of tenants in the UK severely behind on rental payments has fallen by 35,000 or 35% in last 12 months

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert July 18, 2014 12:23

The improvement means that 98.5% of private sector tenants now avoid significant rental arrears, according to the latest Tenant Arrears Tracker report from LSL Property Services.

Overall some 67,000 households remain more than two months behind on rent but this is compared to 102,000 in the second quarter of 2013.

Most recently the number of tenants in severe arrears has dropped by 0.2%, between the first three months of 2014 and the second quarter of the year.

As a proportion of all tenants, those in serious arrears of more than two months has also improved, standing at 1.5% in the second quarter compared to 2.2% in the second quarter of 2013.

Improvements in serious rental arrears tally with the latest figures on overall rent arrears, of any duration. According to LSL’s latest Buy to Let Index, overall tenant arrears now stand at just 7%, as of May 2014, down from 8.2% in May 2013.

‘Private renting has absorbed enormous pressure and will continue to do so. For over half a decade, our national aspiration to own our own homes has struggled in the face of the longest economic crisis on record. And in the midst of this, private renting has provided a solution,’ said Paul Jardine, director and receiver at Templeton LPA.

‘Certainly, some households succumbed to the wave of unemployment that followed the 2008 crisis, and as the broader monthly squeeze tightened its grip.  For a time, though still for only a small minority of tenants, there was a significant rise in serious rental arrears. But now as the jobs market gradually comes back to life, the effect on the most hard pressed of households is clear to be seen,’ he explained.

‘While wages are yet to pick up significantly, those in the most serious financial problems often face a lack of any earnings at all. So as the risk of unemployment retreats this year, those with serious problems paying their rent, and most at risk from losing their homes, are benefiting the most,’ he added.

However, the report also shows that despite fewer tenants falling into the most severe arrears, the number actually facing eviction, while significantly lower in absolute terms, has continued to rise. As of the first quarter of 2014, some 33,000 tenants are facing potential eviction via court order, up 5.9% from the fourth quarter of 2013. On an annual basis this leaves evictions levels 10% higher than in the first three months of 2013.

Meanwhile, landlords have continued to benefit from both the improving financial position of tenants, and a beneficial mortgage market. Landlords’ own mortgage arrears have fallen for the sixth successive quarter, with just 14,700 buy to let mortgages in arrears in more than three months in the first quarter of 2014, down 10.9% from the previous quarter. On annual basis this means buy to let mortgage arrears have improved by 17.9%.

‘Landlords and tenants depend closely on one another. But communication is always vital to keep that relationship in effective working order. A good landlord or managing agent will have a working knowledge of their tenants’ situation,’ Jardine pointed out.

‘If rent becomes late, it is vital that both parties discuss what can be done to get the tenancy back on track as soon as possible. When rental arrears do arise, they are usually resolved in the space of a month or two  and the chances of more serious problems arising are falling even further,’ he added.

According to David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, the minority of landlords who felt the worst of the credit crunch are now paying down arrears while interest rates are favourable, rental yields are solid, and total returns have been boosted by the bonus of capital appreciation.

‘This is especially encouraging since, while portfolios are growing and new landlords are entering the market, this progress is underpinned by solid finances. Chances that tenants will become fundamentally unable to pay their rent have always been low and are set to improve further,’ he explained.

‘This is not just great news for those particular households, but for anyone who rents their home. Landlords are more and more confident about the future of the rental market, and increasingly willing to invest in new homes to let,’ he added.

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert July 18, 2014 12:23

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