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400,000 private tenants in danger of rent arrears

Over 400,000 private tenants may be in significant rent arrears by the end of 2021 says a new report by the research group LSE London. Almost all of these tenants could be at risk of eviction if, as is expected, the government slowly begins to lift its suspension on eviction proceedings from 1 June.

The report uses the government’s projection of unemployment rising to 6.5% this year – and the likely impact that this will have on private tenants and their ability to pay their rent –  to inform this calculation. Currently around 10% of private tenants are thought to be unemployed – this is double the average unemployment rate – and 6-7% of them appear to be in arrears. This is around twice the proportion of a ‘normal’ year.

Many tenants are also at risk because their Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) have not been renewed. Data from the National Residential Landlord’s Association (NRLA) suggest that only around 20% of landlords have issued new tenancies to existing tenants, while over 30% have allowed ASTs to become Statutory Periodic Tenancies – short-term rolling contracts of usually one month.

As a result, only tenants with a current AST and who are up to date with their rent, or less than eight weeks in arrears, are safe from being evicted.

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