The largest survey yet conducted about rent payments during the pandemic shows the claims of pressure groups about widespread evictions are unfounded.
Over 95 per cent of 2,243 private tenants questioned in the study are paying rent in full or have an arrangement with their landlord to pay a lower rent or defer payment.
The survey, conducted independently for the National Residential Landlords Association, finds 87 per cent of private tenants have paid rent as normal throughout the pandemic.
An additional eight per cent have agreed a reduced rent, a rent-free period or made some other agreement with their landlord or letting agent
Ahead of the courts beginning to hear possession cases from August 24 the survey shows that just over three per cent of tenants are building arrears and are unable or unwilling to repay.
Less than a third of all those with arrears - so that's just two per cent of the entire survey sample - have been served with a possession notice.
Further evidence that landlords are working to keep tenants in their homes comes from a separate survey showing 55 per cent of landlords have granted at least one tenant a deferred rent or rent free period to absorb the losses from savings.
These figures come ahead of new rules being introduced which will mean courts can adjourn possession cases where landlords have failed to adequately explain the impact that the pandemic might have had on tenants before seeking possession.
The NRLA says it has developed guidance in conjunction with other groups to support landlords and tenants to agree how to deal with arrears.
It is now calling for government guaranteed hardship loans to be made available to help tenants in arrears because of the pandemic.
Ahead of the winding down of the furlough scheme, the NRLA argues that such loans should be provided to eligible tenants interest free and ring-fenced solely to cover rent payments in order to give tenants security.
“Consistent with our previous surveys, this latest data demonstrates that the vast majority of landlords and tenants are working together to sustain tenancies, and critically that the overwhelming majority of tenants are paying rent as normal” explains NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.
“Eviction is not, and need not be, an inevitable outcome where tenants have struggled to pay their rent due to Covid-19. Those who argue otherwise are stoking needless anxiety for tenants” he continues.
“When the courts do start to hear cases again, it is essential that they deal swiftly with the most serious cases, including those where tenants are committing anti-social behaviour or where there are long-standing rent arrears that have nothing to do with the pandemic.
“To offer security to tenants and landlords badly hit during the lockdown we are calling on the government to introduce a tenant loan scheme to help pay off arrears built due to the coronavirus.”