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Tenants in arrears should have alternative homes by now - top agent

A vocal London lettings agent says it isn’t the responsibility of agents or their landlord clients to take the financial hit for arrears caused by the pandemic.

The director of London agency Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, says: “There’s no doubt this is a terrible situation to be in. Unfortunately, it isn’t the responsibility of UK landlords to take this financial hit on behalf of their tenants and to expect them to continue to is somewhat unfair, considering they have already done so for some months.”

He says the five month eviction ban, ending this weekend, should have given tenants time to seek alternative living arrangements without the pressure of eviction. “In any other scenario, it’s unlikely they would have been afforded this luxury” he adds.


von Grundherr says it’s “incredibly unfair” not to consider the landlords’ plight as many are reliant on rental payments in order to survive “and have had no choice but to swallow this loss of income due to the eviction ban.”

While he concedes there will always be some unscrupulous landlords, most have been working on compromise payment arrangements where required. 

“The reports that many [tenants] will now end up without a home are perhaps a tad exaggerated at the very least. In contrast, some landlords have been held to ransom by unsavoury tenants who have seen an opportunity to play the game knowing they can’t be evicted” he continues. 

He says his agency has one tenant, in arrears, who has stated both to himself and his landlord client: “Go and speak to Boris, I don’t have to leave.”

von Grundherr says: “In this instance, the landlord is already £50,000 out of pocket and while the end of the eviction ban means he can now start proceedings, given the backlog, he is unlikely to even get a court date for three if not four months.

“Then if he gets an eviction date it is likely to take another three or four months to get the bailiffs in, so he may have to wait up to eight months to get his property back and by then he will be another £50,000 out of pocket.”

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    • 21 August 2020 07:44 AM

    Totally correct.

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    • 21 August 2020 07:56 AM

    The tenant might not have to leave AT THE MOMENT. The eviction will definitely come at some time.
    Even the clumsy UK laws make provision for that.

    Beware Mr. Tenant, the day is nearer than you think.

    Then YOU will be begging to Mr. Boris. Not your landlord. And you will regret your insults. And I will watch with pleasure.

    Mark Wilson

    Really in touch with the real world. (Not)

    Being a Landlord is risk, like buying shares, with gearing the risk is greater.


    Mark, it is you who is not in touch with the real world. Unlike say stockmarket investments that have infinite nuanced forces acting upon them that alter the return on that investment, quite aside from the investors ability to pull out the moment they feel uncomfortable, a tenancy has a conscious entity that is is the tenant as part of the mix. Just because the law is set to make instant removal of the problem difficult (and that’s because the very people that set the laws are also the people that would have to pick up the pieces if they made it easier to remove problem tenants swiftly) does not make it anywhere like the correct thing to do, even if there is a particular problem or pressure on the tenant.

    In your logic, Mark, why is it not okay to walk out of Tesco with a trolley full of essential groceries, without paying, if someone is struggling financially, but also Tesco is not able to either do anything about it and cannot prevent them returning for another trolley full next week?

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    Vocal maybe. Correct definitely.

  • Matthew Payne

    Not yet started proceedings and expecting a court date in 3 or 4 months? Absolutely no chance whatsoever. It was that before the now 5 month backlog (and a highly eviction seeking 5 months at that) and the much slower socially distanced timetable the courts have to now adopt.

  • Kieran Ryan

    We have just had a landlord on the phone stating that her bank are now foreclosing on her because of arrears of her mortgage, this is due to her tenant being in arrears of rent!! So tell me Mark, where is the justice???


    Is this a ‘precautionary’ measure by the bank as opposed to direct action to mortgage arrears? Who is the lender?

    Mark Wilson

    Kieran, I don't think this is about justice and I feel sorry for anyone who is suffering at these times. Landlords and Tenants, Employers and Employees, I am also effected. However, BTL is a property speculation and one has no choice but to participate in a market in which you must take the rough with the smooth. In the early 1990's interest rates went sky high which wiped out certain players. Your Landlord looks like they may be a victim. Not having an edge, over borrowing, there will be a reason why they fail as not all will. Market forces-capitalism-if you don't want to play- exit via the gift shop. Just don't expect help from government, its not their job to help speculators who borrow.

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    The government has made a last minute U-turn on the eviction ban - extending it for four weeks until September 20.

    The Housing Law Practitioners Association has tweeted this afternoon: “We have now had official confirmation that the stay on possession proceedings will be extended to September 20.”

    Thanks, Boris - we thought we could trust you. You will not fool us all again and when landlords do eventually recover possession (either they or their mortgage companies will) you WILL have to re-house the future homeless because the landlords will not be there to pick upo the pieces.


    Worse still, Notices have been extended to SIX MONTHS until 31st March 2021!

  • S l
    • S l
    • 21 August 2020 18:28 PM

    Hi people, it is up to us PRS to take these feckless tenants to court and to challenge the law these numbskull MPs are coming up with for the feckless tenants


    This bojo government will then make a Law to house these people again by private Landlords, making it a unlawful discrimination not to accept them since the cause will be blamed at the Pandemic.. Question is isn't there a Landlord Lobbying party to influence the Government on this matters considering the huge amount of monies the private Landlords pay in taxes. More so big co-operate Landlords pay towards their election campaign.

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    Don't you mean BOZO government?

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    • 21 August 2020 20:57 PM


    I'm sure most LL who borrow like any other business are speculating.
    Leverage is how capitalism works.

    But for such speculation to occur most of the investment owners are able to CONTROL who occupies their investment properties.

    LL are the only business where Govt restricts investor activity to the point of them being bankrupted due their being prevented from being able to seek rent paying occupants.
    Every LL understands the leverage risk.
    It is the inability to remove non-rent paying occupants which undermines the basic business model.
    This is unfair.

    Effectively LL are being prevented by Govt from speculating effectively.
    This then means proper speculation is not being allowed.

    Everyone accepts the risks of uncontrolled speculation.

    BTL is now controlled and consequently is unviable.

    We are looking at effective nationalisation of private property at no upfront cost for the Govt.
    An infringement of LL human rights according to the UN charter!


    So who will be brave enough to ask for a Judicial Review, Paul?

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    • 21 August 2020 22:18 PM

    Every LL to contribute £1 towards a JR fighting fund.
    To be paid every month.
    So 2 million LL equal
    £2 million per month.
    More than enough to afford multiple JR.
    Why can't the NRLA take the lead.
    I'd gladly pay £1 to the NRLA every month to pay for any number of things they deem appropriate if that also gives me NRLA membership.
    I would imagine with £2 million coming in every month there wouldn't be much they couldn't do on behalf of LL!!


    I’d be up for that.

     G romit

    The Government knows that private Landlords are disorganised, and operate in isolation. And that Landlord associations are at best paper tigers and typically are an irrelevance.
    Marshalling even a proportion of landlords into a coherent group would be difficult enough, but it has no weapon other than selling up which won't happen en masse, and the Government knows this.
    JR is the only way forward but how do you connect with 2m apathetic landlords?


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