Government data suggests that scare stories talking of a glut of evictions if the current ban is lifted are simply unfounded.
Data from the Ministry of Justice shows that in the fourth quarter of last year the number of claims made by private landlords in England and Wales to repossess properties fell by 37 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
This fall is despite the courts beginning to hear possession cases again following a six month stay on proceedings imposed earlier in 2020.
The number of possession claims made under the accelerated procedure – used by both private and social landlords – also fell by around 43 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
Overall, across the whole of 2020, the number of claims by private landlords to repossess properties fell by 48 per cent, with the number of claims made under the accelerated procedure fell by just over 52 per cent.
Despite the relatively reassuring figures, the National Residential Landlords Association is warning that the scale of rent debt engulfing the sector means that without further government support, landlords cannot survive indefinitely.
Research for the NRLA indicates that over 800,000 renters in England and Wales have built arrears since lockdown measures started in March last year.
The association is also calling for a package of hardship loans and grants for affected tenants to pay off arrears built since March last year, ensuring tenancies are sustained and preventing many renters facing the consequences of damaged credit scores.
“The figures show that despite fears to the contrary, landlords have prioritised sustaining tenancies and supporting renters during the pandemic” explains Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive.
“That said, landlords cannot continue indefinitely going without receiving rent. Bans on repossessions are only leading to tenants accumulating more and more debt which will become impossible for them to pay back. This will eventually lead to many more losing their homes.
“Ministers can still avert this if they step in to help the sector through a package of hardship loans and grants.”
This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.