87% of private tenants have paid their rent as normal throughout the pandemic, according to independent polling from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
In addition, 8% responded that they had made an agreement for reduced rent, a rent-free period, or other arrangements with their landlord or letting agent.
Ahead of the 24th August, when courts will begin hearing possession cases again, the survey shows just over 3% of tenants are building arrears and are unable or unwilling to repay them. Less than a third of those with arrears have been served with a possession notice. This is 2% of the entire survey sample.
A separate survey also reveals that 55% of landlords who have granted at least one tenant a deferred rent or rent-free period plan to absorb the losses from their own savings.
These figures have been announced ahead of the new Civil Procedure Rules being introduced. These rules will mean courts can adjourn possession cases where landlords have failed to adequately explain the impact that the pandemic might have had on their tenants before seeking possession.
The NRLA has developed guidance in conjunction with other groups to support landlords and tenants to agree on how to deal with rent arrears to sustain tenancies wherever possible.
Now it makes the call for Government-guaranteed hardship loans for tenants who are in arrears due to the effects of the pandemic. With the furlough scheme now winding down, the NRLA argues that such loans should be provided interest-free and ring-fenced solely to cover rent payments in order to give eligible tenants security.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, said: “Consistent with our previous surveys, this latest data demonstrates that the vast majority of landlords and tenants are working together to sustain tenancies, and critically that the overwhelming majority of tenants are paying rent as normal.
“Eviction is not, and need not be, an inevitable outcome where tenants have struggled to pay their rent due to COVID-19. Those who argue otherwise are stoking needless anxiety for tenants.
“When the courts do start to hear cases again, it is essential that they deal swiftly with the most serious cases, including those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or where there are long-standing rent arrears that have nothing to do with the pandemic.
“To offer security to tenants and landlords badly hit during the lockdown we are calling on the government to introduce a tenant loan scheme to help pay off arrears built due to the coronavirus.”