An eviction ban extension was announced by the government on January 11. Details of the announcement included the extension lasting until the end of March, possibly longer. Eviction ban legislation states landlords are unable to evict or begin court proceedings for a tenant. Notice periods remain at six months until the end of March.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the trajectory of the pandemic, it’s difficult to offer definitive forecasting for the property market once the eviction ban ends. It is the concerted collective hope that we will be in a much better situation come springtime. In the meantime there’s plenty to share, and we will outline current data and updates from industry experts.
Research undertaken by Citizens Advice reports approximately 500,000 renters privately leasing their homes from landlords are in rental arrears, which would ordinarily put those at risk prior to the eviction ban. Citizens Advice estimates 58% of those renters were up to date with their rent before pandemic restrictions began in February 2020.
Their research says the average arrears amount for private renters is £730. The gathered data prompted Citizens Advice to join other charities’ calling on the government to provide similar financial support to renters as has been provided to homeowners, such as mortgage holidays.
The anticipated backlog of evictions court cases is concerning property experts. Mark Hayward from Propertymark, the lettings agents group, has requested the government step up access to the judicial system. The purpose behind his request is for tenants and landlords to receive resolution and avoid further unwanted accumulated debt.
The government advised mediation services for landlords and renters will begin in February 2021. The purpose of the pilot programme is to offer both parties an opportunity to settle their dispute prior to a court appearance. The government expects mediation services to reduce a portion of the backlog of evictions cases once the evictions ban is lifted at the end of March 2021.
Property industry experts acknowledge the necessity of the evictions ban, yet join other leaders including the shadow housing secretary to express concern for the lack of financial support offered to renters. Landlords associations have appealed for assistance, arguing landlords are also struggling financially. Ben Beadle is the chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
Beadle said the government’s approach to ban evictions was inadvertently concealing the mounting debt accrued by renters hard hit by the pandemic’s financial backlash. Beadle anticipates more renters will be removed from their homes after the evictions ban is lifted because they owe too much rent. Beadle urged the government to provide financial support to renters, and referenced initiatives adopted by the Scottish and Welsh governments to assist their renters.
Considering the tremendous pressure facing both landlords and tenants, everyone appears to be doing their level best to work together. Renters may seek cheaper accommodation once the lockdown ends to avoid accruing further debt. In fact, forecasting for the rental market this year remains positive.
Indeed renters are reflecting the priorities and trends of homeowners. Everyone is looking for additional living space and better digital connectivity, since we have all become so reliant on digital services since the start of the pandemic. Renters are actively seeking more living space (including garden space) and better working from home conditions. They are keen to move to larger properties, or properties including garden space or a balcony.
Industry forecasting anticipates renting will remain a solid option for most people, particularly those uncertain about their job prospects. Nick Barnes, head of research at Chesterons, anticipates once lockdown restrictions end and workers return to their offices, there will be increased demand for rental accommodation.