One in three landlords have had to endure rental arrears as a result of COVID-19 while the same number have been asked for either a rent reduction or payment holiday, according to new figures from rental property sales platform Vesta.

Although the findings are based on a relatively small survey of 157 landlords representing more than 1,300 properties in the three months between March and June, it believes this indicates a much higher level of rental arrears than other studies have found.

This includes the Shelter survey which estimated that just 3% of private renters had fallen into rental arrears since the start of the pandemic.

Vesta says 87% of landlords who were asked by their tenant for a rent reduction or payment holiday due to COVID-19 agreed to a concession.

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By extrapolating the figure, it’s worked out that UK landlords have so far given at least £722 million worth of financial support to their tenants.

This is based on 2.66 million landlords in the UK, an average monthly rent of £888 and assuming that each landlord provided one month’s rent.

Russell Gould, Vesta’s chief executive, says the findings show how the vast majority of landlords have worked with, empathised with, and have supported their tenants during the pandemic.

“Many landlords are retired and rely on rent as their major source of income so many have taken a significant financial hit to help their tenants impacted by COVID-19,” says Gould.

Confidence returning

Vesta also says that confidence appears to be returning to the market, with landlords more positive than economists when it comes to expectations for medium-term tenancy demand and house price growth.

It found that 65% of landlords believe that property prices will increase or stay about the same over the next 12 months, while half of the landlords surveyed plan to buy at least one property during that time.

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