Eviction specialists Landlord Action has had a sharp rise in landlords requesting to use their debt recovery service.
Instructions for the last year, April 2021 to March 2022, were up 180% compared to the pre-pandemic year, April 2019 to March 2020.
According to Landlord Action, the restrictions placed on landlords over the last two years have led to the value of rent arrears becoming higher than ever.
Responding to the English Housing Survey 2020-21, 4% of private renters reported being in rent arrears. With an estimated 13 million people in the UK renting from a private landlord, this suggests approximately 52,000 were in rent arrears between 2020 and 2021.
Landlord Philip Robinson had tenants who stopped paying rent in October 2019, four months prior to the national lockdown. They remained in situ throughout the pandemic but would not communicate with him or the letting agent. They finally left without surrendering the keys or informing him that they had vacated. Having caused significant damage, Philip decided to pursue the tenants’ arrears through Landlord Action’s debt recovery service. In October 2021, the team recovered £14,950.
Philip Robinson comments: “I have always been very fair and taken my tenants’ personal circumstances into account, but this tenant ran a company which had £250,000 in the bank. They abused the restrictions put in place by the Government which were designed to help those in need.
“The tenants purchased a property, renovated it and managed to pay the mortgage, all whilst living in my property for free. If more tenants like this knew there would be repercussions, such as a County Court Judgement, I believe they would cooperate much earlier in the proceedings.”
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, comments: “We currently have hundreds of live debt recovery cases, ranging from a few thousand pounds right up to one where the arrears have reached £200,000. Admittedly, this is an extremely rare case, but what many of our cases have in common is that the tenants had the means to pay. For example, one case is against a practising doctor who owes £42,000.
“If there are substantial arrears and the tenant is employed with a steady level of income, therefore has the means to pay, but has simply stopped paying, it is worth pursuing the money that is legally and rightfully owed to the landlord.
“There are many ways to enforce an outstanding debt such as appointing a High Court Bailiff who can seize goods, apply for a Third-Party Debt Order (freeze bank account) or apply for an order for an attachment of earnings. If a landlord wishes to seize goods on the eviction date this can only be done if a High Court Bailiff is appointed.”