The moratorium on evictions is due to come to an end on 23 August, following a two-month extension announced in June; it would be unfair to expect landlords to shoulder the burden any further, says Benham and Reeves.
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “Many will have found themselves in financial trouble due to the current pandemic, with some unable to pay their rent as a result and there’s no doubt this is a terrible situation to be in.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t the responsibility of UK landlords to take this financial hit on behalf of their tenants and to expect them to continue to is somewhat unfair, considering they have already done so for some months having had no choice in the matter.”
The moratorium so far should have provided unprecedented opportunities for tenants to rectify their situations and consider their options, von Grundherr added.
He said: “Those tenants who have found themselves in financial hardship due to the coronavirus have now had time to seek alternative living arrangements without the pressure of eviction.
“In any other scenario, it’s unlikely they would have been afforded this luxury.
“It’s also incredibly unfair not to consider the landlord in this scenario as many are reliant on rental payments in order to survive and have had no choice but to swallow this loss of income due to the eviction ban.
“Of course, there will always be a few unscrupulous landlords wanting to evict their tenants, but the reality is that the vast majority of landlords have been working with their tenants to reach an agreement that suits all parties, in what has been a tough few months for all.
“So the reports that many will now end up without a home are perhaps a tad exaggerated at the very least.
“In contrast, some landlords have been held to ransom by unsavoury tenants who have seen an opportunity to play the game knowing they can’t be evicted.
“We have one tenant who fell into arrears before the pandemic and was afforded the necessary grace periods in which to sort themselves out. With the ban introduced soon after, they now keep stating to both the landlord and us ‘go and speak to Boris, I don’t have to leave’.
“In this instance, the landlord is already £50,000 out of pocket and while the end of the eviction ban means he can now start proceedings, given the backlog, he is unlikely to even get a court date for three if not four months.
“Then if he gets an eviction date it is likely to take another three or four months to get the bailiffs in, so he may have to wait up to eight months to get his property back and by then he will be another £50,000 out of pocket.”
Far from a one-off, von Grundherr warns that this may become an all-too familiar story.
He said: “This will be an issue that will now plague the rental market for many months and as ever, landlords are the ones getting hit by ill-thought-out initiatives
“As with most aspects of current life, returning to normality isn’t an easy process and there are no quick fixes in many cases.
“However, return to reality we must and removing the ban on rental evictions is the next, necessary step in doing this within the property industry.”