The managing director of an insurer and legal services supplier to the lettings industry has accused some tenants of using the Coronavirus as an excuse to not pay their rent.
Sim Sekhon of Legal for Landlords says: “There’s no doubt in my mind that some tenants will use the pandemic to avoid making payments they could manage, knowing full well that landlords have no redress, and that a backlog in the courts will give them further opportunity to avoid payment.”
And he adds: “As the furlough schemes come to an end and the longer-term repercussions of lockdown hit employers, more and more tenants could be in financial difficulty a situation which could persist into the start of next year. Yes, it’s right that tenants are being protected, but who is protecting the interests of the numerous small-scale landlords?”
Sekhon was responding to the government’s recent announcement that the evictions ban would be extended until the end of August.
He says that this extensions merely prolongs the agony for those landlords who already had problems with their tenants and who now cannot bring them to a head until at least the end of the summer.
“Contrary to what some housing campaigners might have us believe, few landlords are fat cats sitting on piles of cash. Some operating on the buy to let model may have the comfort of a mortgage payment holiday, but many others are retired individuals whose income from property rental is effectively their pension. Often these landlords cannot access other forms of support” he explains.
“Pre-Covid, we had hundreds of eviction cases already in the system. Effectively, the landlords concerned are powerless to make progress on a pre-existing problem for a minimum of five months. Let’s hope, for their sake, that the oldest cases and those already in the system are prioritised when the courts start working again.”
Sekhon says there is a need for more balance in the overall approach of rule-makers to the buy to let sector, during and separate to the Coronavirus crisis.