Rent arrears in first Covid wave dwarfed by the second

Rent arrears in first Covid wave dwarfed by the second

0:01 AM, 22nd September 2021, About 2 months ago 1

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The latest research by Barrows and Forrester examines the true impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on landlords due to rent arrears among private rental tenants in England, revealing that the total amount of arrears during the initial wave of the pandemic was dwarfed by arrears during the second.

There are 4.8 million private rented households in England. During wave one of the pandemic restrictions figures from the ONS estimated that 7% of these households, equalling 335,860 homes, were at least one month behind on their rent payments.

The average rent in England in July 2020 was £826 per month. This means the total rent arrears during wave one was at least £277.3 million. However, given that a number of households were more than one month in arrears, this is a relatively conservative figure.

During wave two of the pandemic, the number of households in at least one month’s arrears rose from 7% to 9% which means wave two saw some 431,820 private rental households fall into arrears.

The average cost of renting was also higher during wave two than during wave one, rising from £826 to £846 per month. So, with almost 432,000 homes at least one month behind on rent, Barrows and Forrester estimates the cash total of arrears to have been at least £365.3 million. This marks an increase of 31.75% from wave one, a pounds and pence difference of just over £88 million.

When analysing the England data on a closer regional level, it is revealed that four English regions saw arrears grow by more than the national average between wave one and wave two.

The largest arrears growth was seen in the East Midlands, where between the first two waves of the pandemic, rent arrears increased by more than 36%. In both the South West and the East, arrears increased by 35.6%, and in the South East, they grew by 35%.

The smallest regional increase between each wave was in London where total arrears grew by just over 24%, but due to London’s very high rent prices, this 24% growth accounted for almost £28.5 million, by far the largest sum in the nation.

The country must now wait and see how rent arrears will be affected by a potential third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which most analysts predict will occur between September and October 2021.

Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented: “The first two waves of the pandemic shook the rental market to the core. All of a sudden, many tenants who had no previous problems with paying rent on time found themselves out of work, or at least having their hours significantly cut as employers tried desperately to find a route to survival during an unprecedented moment in modern history.

“This left hundreds of thousands of people unable to afford steady rent payments and so the government stepped in to protect them, making it almost impossible for landlords to evict them during the height of the pandemic.

“As a result, when wave two arrived, we saw a 2% rise in the number of private rental households in arrears which came at a considerable cost to the nation’s landlords.

“We are starting to see normality return to the rental market, but this will do little to comfort those landlords who are now severely out of pocket and should a third wave materialise, we will no doubt see yet another increase in the total amount of rental arrears seen across the market.”

Table shows estimated rental arrears based on just one month of lost rental income during Wave 1 of pandemic
Location Private rental households – number (2020) Ave Rent pm – July 2020 Wave 1 – June/July 2020 (7% in arrears) Wave 1 – June/July 2020 – est cost of arrears based on one month rent behind
London 1,042,000 £1,611 72,940 £117,506,340
South East 670,000 £1,034 46,900 £48,494,600
East of England 497,000 £932 34,790 £32,424,280
South West 506,000 £876 35,420 £31,027,920
North West 556,000 £773 38,920 £30,085,160
West Midlands region 451,000 £721 31,570 £22,761,970
Yorkshire and the Humber 482,000 £670 33,740 £22,605,800
East Midlands 391,000 £656 27,370 £17,954,720
North East 203,000 £535 14,210 £7,602,350
England 4,798,000 £826 335,860 £277,289,997
Sources Gov.UK – Dwelling Stock Homelet Household Resilience Study  
         

 

Table shows estimated rental arrears based on just one month of lost rental income during Wave 2 of pandemic
Location Private rental households – number (2020) Ave Rent pm – Dec 2020 Wave 2 – Nov/Dec 2020 (9% in arrears) Wave 2 – Nov/Dec 2020 – est cost of arrears based on one month rent behind
London 1,042,000 £1,556 93,780 £145,921,680
South East 670,000 £1,085 60,300 £65,425,500
East of England 497,000 £983 44,730 £43,969,590
South West 506,000 £924 45,540 £42,078,960
North West 556,000 £772 50,040 £38,630,880
West Midlands region 451,000 £735 40,590 £29,833,650
Yorkshire and the Humber 482,000 £682 43,380 £29,585,160
East Midlands 391,000 £694 35,190 £24,421,860
North East 203,000 £539 18,270 £9,847,530
England 4,798,000 £846 431,820 £365,316,804
Sources Gov.UK – Dwelling Stock Homelet Household Resiliance Study  
         

 

Table shows the change in estimated rental arrears based on just one month of lost rental income during Wave 1 and Wave 2 of pandemic
Location Change % – total value one month arrears Wave 1 vs Wave 2 Change £ – total value one month arrears Wave 1 vs Wave 2
London 24.18% £28,415,340
South East 34.91% £16,930,900
East of England 35.61% £11,545,310
South West 35.62% £11,051,040
North West 28.41% £8,545,720
West Midlands region 31.07% £7,071,680
Yorkshire & Humber 30.87% £6,979,360
East Midlands 36.02% £6,467,140
North East 29.53% £2,245,180
England 31.75% £88,026,807


Comments

by DSR

13:17 PM, 22nd September 2021, About 2 months ago

rent arrears are only part of the real issue here that cuts far financially deeper than this. The REAL cost of tenant arrears needs to incorporate the cost of eviction as a direct result. Then you will see the full picture and in the process show up the issue with the ridiculous eviction process itself for what it is and delays that ensue. This total tends therefore to only increase.


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