Rent arrears climb to £326m in December

by Sarah Ashcroft

Tenants struggled badly to meet their rent payments during December.

Research by LSL Property Services' buy-to-let index found that £326m of rent was either late or unpaid in the month - which is up from £241 million in November - and this equates to over ten per cent of all rent in England and Wales.

The expense associated with Christmas may be part of the reason that so many people could not afford to stay on track. However, individuals need to be careful they do not breach their tenancy agreements, as by doing so they could eventually be evicted.

But for tenants in rented accommodation the study found that the typical average rent dropped by nearly one per cent to £734 a month.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, said: "Rents may have returned to August levels, but it is a seasonal blip rather than an about-turn in the market. Tenants were in a stronger bargaining position as landlords reduced rents to fill empty properties in the slower winter months, yet the underlying weakness in the mortgage market will mean competition will heat up once more."

He added it is not surprising that so many people are struggling financially at the moment, as December always brings an increase in rent arrears. Moving forward, falling arrears are going to be tied to the labour market, which means a negative job market could have long-lasting consequences for renters.

Chief executive of Shelter Campbell Robb told the Press Association that a combination of rising living costs, wage freezes and high rents means the record level of arrears is not surprising.

Landlords may want to talk to their tenants if they are struggling to pay rent. By doing so, an agreement can be put in place over how any outstanding money can be repaid in an efficient and fair manner.

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Published on: January 18, 2013

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