Things are looking up: Arrears are down!

Good news for landlords and tenants alike
Good news for landlords and tenants alike

There’s good news for landlords and tenants alike with rent arrears at their lowest level since March 2010.

According to the latest NLA Landlords’ Panel, 41 per cent of landlords have experienced instances of rental arrears in the last 12 months, down nine per cent year on year and back to levels previously seen in quarter one 2010.

This is great news for all parties and shows that tenants are coping financially, despite the welfare changes.

And in more good news for landlords, void periods in private-residential property have fallen to their lowest level in over a year, helped by strong and consistent tenant demand.

According to the research, enduring tenancies are on the rise with only 33 per cent of landlords experiencing vacant periods in the last three months, down 13 per cent year on year.

At a regional level, voids are greatest in the North East of England where 54 per cent of landlords have experienced empty periods in the last three months and lowest in London where only 20 per cent of landlords have experienced voids over the same time frame.

Additionally, the average duration of a void has reduced to 60 days from 63 days in quarter three and 69 days earlier in 2012.

It is in every landlords’ business interest to maintain good, long lasting tenancies and avoid arrears.

To keep instances of arrears at bay, be sure to carry out the appropriate tenant checks when recruiting tenants to ensure they are in a position to meet their rental commitment. It is also wise to build a good, open relationship upon meeting new tenants to ensure tenants feel able to approach you if they are experiencing problems. This open relationship will allow you to work through the situation to help ensure an enduring tenancy using a short term repayment plan or reduced rent arrangement.

Issuing a Section 8 Notice to initiate possession proceedings as a result of long term arrears must always be a last resort – professional landlords will favour good, sustainable tenancies over short lived tenancies that result in periods in which their property will lie vacant.

And at a time when demand far outstrips supply, it is imperative that empty properties are filled quickly, following any necessary maintenance and improvements.

The private-rented sector affords tenants flexibility, so as tenants’ circumstances change, there are occasions when a property might be empty.

The NLA’s advice to landlords looking to minimise void periods is to talk openly with their tenants about their future plans. This will give the landlord some idea of when the property might next be empty and allow them to make any improvements and plan advertising activity in good time.

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