Worrying new research from deposit replacement scheme, Ome, has predicted that the impact of the Coronavirus could cost buy to let landlords nearly £14.9bn should tenants be unable to pay rent during the three month support period announced by the government.
The government recently announced that new evictions would be suspended and new possessions proceedings halted while the Coronavirus crisis persists. They have also protected landlords as well as tenants with a three-month mortgage payment holiday on buy to let mortgages.
However, if tenants simply can’t pay, this holiday will do little to help landlords who will still have to pay once the three months is up, with or without the rental income from their tenants.
Ome’s research shows that there are 5.2m households currently within the private rental sector alone and without the ability to work and pay their rent, the buy to let sector could see a loss of £4.97bn every month based on the average monthly rent of £955 alone. Over three months this climbs to a huge £14.9bn.
Nationally, this lost income is highest in England with potentially £11.6bn lost in rental income, while London is home to the biggest sum regionally with a potential £4.9bn lost in three months alone.
What does this mean for the average landlord?
There are some 2.6m landlords operating within the UK buy to let sector meaning the average landlord has a portfolio of two rental properties. With an average rent of £955 and a loss of three months’ rental revenue across both properties, they could be facing an individual £5,730 shortfall in rental income.
With a ratio of 2.1 properties per landlord in Scotland, the loss is at its greatest at £6,146 over three months with Northern Ireland also high at £6,083.
Not only does this huge sum have implications on a sector that has already seen its financial return stretched by the government, but it could see tenants out of pocket even further should landlords look to keep their tenancy deposit to account for lost rental income.
Matthew Hooker, Co-founder of Ome, commented: “It’s great news that the government are providing some financial respite for the nation’s landlords, however, it’s more of a weekend away than a holiday and once expired, UK landlords are still facing the cost of a buy to let mortgage without the rental income to pay it.
"It’s by no means the fault of the tenant if they are unable to pay but there is a very real chance that landlords will turn to the rental deposits at the end of a tenancy in order to recoup this lost rent. While this would be unfair on a tenant who has otherwise kept the property in good order, it may well be the case that landlords are simply left with no choice.
"The silver lining at least is that hopefully, not all tenants will be unable to pay their rent and so this sum of lost rental income should reduce, but whichever way you look at it, the UK rental sector is in for a tough few months.”