A hardship loan scheme should be developed to help tenants in England clear rent arrears built up during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a body representing letting and estate agents.
Propertymark said that without a support package for tackling Covid-induced tenant debt, and a reformed court system, landlords could leave the sector in droves.
It said tax impacts, tenants’ debts and backlogs in the courts are leaving many smaller portfolio landlords with few options.
We are risking good landlords leaving the market
Mark Hayward, Propertymark
The proportion of private renters in arrears has tripled during the pandemic, it added, from 3% between April 2019 and March 2020 to 9% during November and December 2020.
The call comes at a time when energy bills and other costs for households are increasing and a temporary uplift in Universal Credit is being removed.
The private rented sector supports five million households across the UK, Propertymark said.
Mark Hayward, chief policy adviser for Propertymark, said: “Ultimately the housing system needs to work for everyone, but landlords are being asked to carry too much of the financial burden caused by the pandemic. We are risking good landlords leaving the market.”