Landlords and agents have warned an extension to the evictions ban could dent confidence in the rental market and encourage tenants to stop paying rent even if they can afford it.
Last week the Government announced a two month extension to its ban on rental evictions in England and Wales to 23rd August.
It takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months.
But the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) questioned the move, highlighting that members are already working with tenants who are facing difficulty.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said:
“This decision means that some landlords will now be facing five months without receiving any rent as they can take no action against tenants who were not paying before the lockdown started.
“It also means more misery for tenants and neighbours suffering at the hands of anti-social tenants and will also cause exceptional hardship for a number of landlords, including many who depend on their rental income to live, for which there is no assistance.
“We have every sympathy with tenants who face genuine difficulties because of a loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis.
Beadle called on the Government to set out its plans for the market at the end of this one-time extension.
“A failure to do so will cause serious damage to the private rented sector as a whole. It will ultimately be tenants who suffer as they will find it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing if landlords do not have the confidence that they will get their properties back swiftly in legitimate circumstances.”
Staffordshire agent L&A Lettings, questioned whether the extension would encourage bad tenants.
The agent said in a tweet:
“No decent landlord wants to evict a good tenant.
“Any decent landlord will work with a tenant who has lost their source of income.
“However, what does a landlord do when a tenant, knowing they can’t be removed, just doesn’t pay?
“The Government is showing a complete lack of understanding.”
Mary-Anne Bowring, founder of automated lettings platform, PlanetRent, added:
“With all of the uncertainty going on at the moment, tenants deserve to be protected by the Government from evictions that could be through no fault of their own, and could well be down to financial hardship brought on by being furloughed or losing their job altogether, but this needs to be balanced by proving that their income has gone down.
“The worry is that many landlords are retired, according to the English Private Landlord Survey as many as 33% are.
“These landlords may well not have a mortgage to claim a repayment holiday on, rely on property income and without rent or furlough monies may struggle to survive.”
She suggested the Government may need to consider other ways of financially supporting households post-crisis such as through higher housing benefit payments.
“Tenants and landlords should be working together in what is a difficult time for everybody, and should not use the eviction ban as an excuse to mistreat the property they live in or withhold rent if they are not in a genuinely financially difficult situation.”