Research shows that half of those in the private rental sector are aged 16 to 34, making the lettings industry vulnerable to large scale unemployment if it hits this demographic as the pandemic evolves.
For example, nearly half of the 2.8m-plus retail workers in the UK are aged between 16 to 34, with one in four aged 25 to 34.
Restaurant workers are even more likely to be young, with six in 10 of those working in food and beverage aged between 16 to 34.
The higher proportion of younger people both renting and working in at-risk job sectors exposes the lettings sector suggests the research from deposit alternative firm Flatfair and investment service Rown Estate Management. of all sizes to the risk of their tenants being unable to pay their rent and falling into rent arrears.
To compound the issue, separate research by the Resolution Foundation suggests more than a third of 18 to 24-year-olds are earning less than before the outbreak.
The firms behind the research say buy to let landlords who rely on rental income for their livelihood may struggle to meet their own obligations if their tenants fall behind on the rent while housing associations may also find their tenants are falling behind on rents.
“As more firms start to furlough staff and others cease trading due to the economic impact of the virus, swathes of young renters up and down the country will see their incomes plummet and may not be able to pay their rent. Rising rent arrears are likely to mount over the year as a consequence. This may, in turn, see many landlords struggling to meet their own obligations such as mortgage repayments” according to Franz Doerr, chief executive and founder of flatfair.