New research shows that almost two thirds of the private landlords in England and Wales surveyed expect to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA)’s latest survey of just over 2,000 members found that 48% felt they would face a ‘slightly’ negative impact to their business as a result of the pandemic. 18% said they would face a ‘significant’ negative impact.
56% also responded that they were either ‘less’ or ‘much less’ confident in being able to achieve their goals over the next year than they were three months ago.
Such concerns caused by the pandemic are affecting investment decisions made by landlords, says the NRLA. Whilst 16% of those surveyed said they planned to purchase at least one or more properties over the next year, 30% said they intend to sell one or more property.
35% of respondents reported that over the previous three months they had seen an increase in demand for privately rented housing.
In a previous analysis from the NRLA, it was suggested that the total cost of rent arrears caused by COVID-19 in the private rental sector could be up to £437 million in England. Landlords are now calling on the Government to help sustain tenancies by providing the finances needed to pay off such arrears.
The NRLA wants tenants in England to be able to access hardship loans, following similar schemes in Spain, Wales, and Scotland. Payments would be made directly to the landlord.
This survey also found that 78% of respondents are supportive of such a scheme. It has the support also, among others, of Lord Best, the former Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who has said of it: “The landlord is happy, the cost to government is very modest and to the tenant, bearable.”
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Whilst the vast majority of landlords have been working constructively with their tenants where they have struggled due to the pandemic, it is not sustainable to expect them or tenants to continue having rent arrears building indefinitely. This is highlighted in the lower levels of confidence among landlords and the impact it is having on their businesses.
“Providing the financial support needed to help tenants pay off rent arrears built since lockdown started would cost the Government less than the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. As we head into more local lockdowns, it is even more important that tenants don’t have to worry about meeting their rent bill.”