Serious rent arrears 'biggest risk to lettings market'

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More than 67,000 rental households across the UK now owe more than two months’ rent according to LSL Property Services.

The firm’s quarterly rental market analysis, looking at October to December inclusive, shows that those in severe arrears rose 2,000 since the third quarter of 2013. Even so, the number of households in severe arrears is still 26 per cent below the rate a year ago.

Although evictions have generally been fewer than were anticipated at the start of the downturn back in 2007, there has been an increase recently. The latest data, covering the third quarter of 2013, shows 30,807 tenants facing eviction, representing a quarterly rise of 11 per cent.

Meanwhile, landlords’ own mortgage arrears have fallen for the fourth quarter in a row. By the end of Q3 2013 the number of Buy To Let mortgages over three months in arrears stood at 17,500, down 1.1 per cent since early 2013.

David Brown, commercial director of LSL, says those tenants struggling with late rent payments represent “the biggest risk for the private rented sector” in 2014.

“For these households, signs of economic growth have been confined to the newspaper and are yet to make wallets any fatter. This small proportion of private tenants is shrinking, but remains a serious concern for some landlords” he says.