It’ll take years for rents and evictions to return to normal – new report

A new academic report suggests that more than 400,000 private tenants may be in significant rent arrears by the end of 2021 – but a surge in evictions is unlikely to occur.

The study, by the research group LSE London, funded by Trust for London and the London School of Economics, uses data from the National Residential Landlords Association.

This suggests that only around 20 per cent of landlords have issued new tenancies to existing tenants, while over 30 per cent have allowed ASTs to become Statutory Periodic Tenancies – short-term rolling contracts of usually one month.

The LSE London group says: “As a result, only tenants with a current AST and who are up to date with their rent or less than eight weeks in arrears are safe from being evicted. This means is that large numbers of tenants are likely to feel increasingly insecure.”

But it states that because of court backlogs it’s unlikely evictions will soar from next month when the ban eases.

“Before the pandemic it was taking a median of 42 weeks for cases to reach repossession – the mean length was nearer a year. Now the small number that are being processed are taking maybe twice that long. What happens when eviction notices are enabled is totally unclear – but if nothing specific is done it could take years to return to normality. Meantime many landlords will be receiving no rent for months on end.”

The LSE London report urges greater protections for private tenants and landlords. 

Professor Christine Whitehead, emeritus professor of housing economics at the LSE and co-author of the report, says: “Most evictions remain on hold until after May 31. Depending on what the government announces will happen after this, many tenants could be vulnerable to being asked to leave their homes.

“However, we do not expect an immediate surge in evictions since, in many cases landlords and tenants have found ways of coping through rent holidays and lower rents during the crises, and some renters have moved in with family or friends.”

And Dr Nancy Holman, associate professor of urban planning and co-author of the report, adds: “In a crisis of this magnitude there are no easy answers. Even if there is a rapid transition back to normality, the long-term arrears and loss of credit-worthiness among tenants and loss of income and confidence for landlords will continue to scar both individuals and the private rented sector for many years to come.

“One in five households in England rent, with many having no other option. If we are to avoid catastrophic problems in the future, we must ensure that the private rented sector remains sustainable.”

You can see the full 45-page report here.

Written by: Houseladder