Tenants and landlords feel the strain

The relationship between landlord and tenant can be somewhat tenuous at the best of times, but with the threat of recession putting increasing pressure on both, further strain is inevitable.

It is now more than a year since the credit crunch is officially deemed to have begun and people are feeling the pinch across the UK and beyond.

This was evidenced this week by the revelation from the Office for National Statistics that consumer prices index (CPI) inflation had risen to 5.2 per cent in September - its highest level in 16 years.

And with gas and electricity prices rising by 49.9 per cent and 30.3 per cent respectively over the last year, householders have been hit hard.

Combined with soaring food prices and high interest rates, it has meant many tenants are finding it increasingly difficult to avoid falling into rent arrears.

This problem was highlighted recently by the case of letting agent Sutton Estates in Liverpool, which responded to tenants' failure to provide rent payments by erecting signs outside properties.

"Rent dodger lives here" they read, as the firm attempted to embarrass rent out of its tenants.

Neil Heffey, a partner at Sutton Estates, explained: "They can avoid us but not their neighbours. Now, every time they walk in and out of their door the neighbours will be laughing at them."

The tactic prompted much debate and although Mr Heffey explained that it was only used when other avenues were exhausted, the National Landlords Association (NLA) unequivocally condemned the practice.

Spokesman for the body, which represents private residential landlords, Simon Gordon said it was "almost certainly illegal" and a recipe for disaster.

He called for landlords to use the proper legal channels, advising that authorities are unlikely to look favourably upon naming and shaming.

"The NLA would advise landlords and letting agents against taking the law into their own hands. Instigating some kind of medieval with hunt against their tenants is a very bad idea," added Mr Gordon.

And with people increasingly finding it difficult to secure a mortgage, maintaining a good landlord-tenant relationship could now be more important than ever.

Paragon Mortgages' quarterly buy-to-let report has found that demand for rental properties grew significantly even in the last three months.

More than half of landlords surveyed said that demand had risen in that time, while nearly 60 per cent predicted still further increases over the next year.

Relief may be on the horizon, as Andrew Sentance - a member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee - predicted this week that inflation is set to fall.

Nonetheless, the effects of the credit crunch are likely to be felt for some time to come, making it all the more important for a healthy relationship between landlord and tenant to be maintained.

  • Landlord and Tenancy News from Lawpack: How to evict tenants for rent arrears with our solicitor-approved Section 8 Notice

Published on: October 16, 2008

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