The number of tenants being evicted from their rental property in England and Wales has risen by 5% over the first three months of the year, while the repossession rate for homeowners has dropped to a record low.
Seasonally adjusted figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) found that there were 10,732 repossessions of rental properties by bailiffs between January and March, up from 10,253 in the last three months of 2015.
The number of private tenants evicted from their homes by bailiffs reached a record high in 2015, with 42,728 households being forcibly removed from rental properties across England and Wales.
Housing campaigners have blamed welfare cuts and the shortage of affordable homes for the rise in repossessions. More than half of these evictions are believed to have been by private landlords.
The figures from the MoJ are backed up by a new report from PropertyLetByUs.com – an online letting agent – which shows that a quarter of landlords have served an eviction notice to tenants over the last 12 months and 5% have pursued an eviction in the courts. Additionally, almost half of landlords have suffered rent arrears during the same period.
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The Managing Director of PropertyLetByUs.com, Jane Morris, comments: “Landlords are increasingly facing rent arrears, as rent escalation continues to outstrip gross income. According to HomeLet, rents on new tenancies signed on UK rental property outside London over the three months to April 2016 were on average 5.1% higher than a year earlier.
“Landlords are also facing a financial squeeze, due to restrictions on their tax breaks, and some may be raising rents to supplement their income. Pushing up rent rises further will put huge pressure on those tenants who are already struggling to pay their rent. We may well see evictions continuing to rise over the next few months.”
She continues: “These uncomfortable statistics highlight the need for landlords to protect their rental income and ensure they carry out thorough references with all new tenants. Times are very tough for many tenants, and demand for rental accommodation is soaring in many parts of the UK.
“Landlords need to be extra vigilant when they take on a new tenant. But a few simple checks will help identify if a tenant is in a good financial position or not.”
The agent has put together some advice for landlords on the type of checks that they should conduct on a new tenant:
- Obtain a credit check – Tenants with good credit histories are generally good tenants.
- Obtain references from previous landlords and employers.
- If you have any doubt over the applicant’s ability to pay the rent, ask for further proof, such as copies of payslips or bank statements.
- Ensure that tenant application forms are completed in full – Applicants that leave out some information may be hiding something.
- Arrange insurance cover for legal expenses and rental income – This will cover your liability if the tenant defaults on the rent.