Number of tenants struggling to pay rent goes up

The number of tenants struggling to pay their rent has gone up in the past six months, states a new report, just published by ARLA, the Association of Residential Letting Agents. A recent survey of members showed two thirds of those questioned said they had noticed an upsurge in the number of tenants having financial difficulties. And 93pc of ARLA members also reported they had seen a hike in tenants haggling with landlords over rents since the beginning of the year.

Agents noted that this wasn’t just due to people having a necessity to cut costs, but also down to some tenants looking to take advantage of the downturn in prices within the rental market.

ARLA UK president and Norwich-based lettings agent David McMaster said: “It is very important that tenants who find themselves in financial difficulty don’t bury their heads in the sand; they should understand that a good letting agent is there to assist them in the bad times as well as the good and will go through all of their options with them.

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an agent’s and landlord’s perspective there is nothing worse than a tenant who is not paying rent and not communicating. The reality of this situation is that if there is no opportunity for discussion then the landlord is then left with only one option which is to start court proceedings for possession.”

Ian Potter, operations manager of ARLA, said: “This is very worrying. With the private rented sector continuing to grow, providing much-needed choice to a vast number of people, it is vital that support is given for the most basic of privileges: a roof over one’s head. Tenants who have become unemployed and applied for Local Housing Allowance will automatically fall into the late payment category, as the benefit is unhelpfully paid monthly in arrears when rents are due in advance.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme of late but as far as I can see, tenants are being forgotten completely. That’s inexcusable in a climate such as this. Changes to support tenants faced with eviction due to landlords having property repossessed were introduced in April although no benefit is yet seen filtering through to the market place.”

The data from the second quarter of the ARLA Members’ Survey of the Private Rented Sector is drawn from 730 offices. The survey is supported by mortgage lenders Mortgage Express and Paragon Mortgages. Together with the Survey of landlords, this forms part of the quarterly ARLA Review and Index. All surveys and statistics can be downloaded from www.arla.co.uk.

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