A new survey of over 2,000 landlords has revealed that the majority are bracing themselves for the negative financial impact of the Covid-19.
According to the research from the National Residential Landlords Association, 48% felt they would face a 'slightly' negative impact to their business as a result of the pandemic and 18% said they would face a 'significant' negative impact.
This has caused landlord confidence to fall with 56% saying that they were less, or much less, confident of being able to achieve their goals over the next year compared to three months ago.
Concerns over the impact the pandemic is having are affecting investment decisions being made by landlords. Whilst 16% of those surveyed said they planned to purchase at least one or more properties over the next year, 30% said they intend to sell one or more properties.
The likely fall in the supply of rental homes comes as the survey found that 35% of respondents reported that over the previous three months they had seen an increase in demand for private rented housing.
With a previous analysis by the NRLA having suggested that total private sector rent arrears as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in England could be up to £437 million, landlords are calling on the Government to help sustain tenancies by providing the finances needed to pay off COVID related arrears.
Following similar schemes developed in Spain, Wales and Scotland, the NRLA is calling for tenants in England to be able to access hardship loans to cover such arrears. This would see loans available interest free and guaranteed by the Government specifically to cover unpaid rents since lockdown measures began in March. Payments would be made directly to the landlord.
The NRLA's survey has found that 78% of respondents supported such a scheme. It has the support also, among others, of Lord Best, the former Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who has said of it: “The landlord is happy, the cost to government is very modest and to the tenant, bearable.”
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
“Whilst the vast majority of landlords have been working constructively with their tenants where they have struggled due to the pandemic, it is not sustainable to expect them or tenants to continue having rent arrears building indefinitely. This is highlighted in the lower levels of confidence among landlords and the impact it is having on their businesses.
“Providing the financial support needed to help tenants pay off rent arrears built since lockdown started would cost the Government less than the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. As we head into more local lockdowns, it is even more important that tenants don't have to worry about meeting their rent bill.”