'Troubled minority feeling pinch'


To let

A growing minority of "troubled" tenants are falling severely behind with their rent, a major lettings network has warned.

Around 3,000 more private sector tenants have slipped into at least two months' worth of rent arrears in the last three months, according to estimates from LSL Property Services.

This takes the total number of tenants thought to be in severe arrears to around 98,000, representing 2.4% of tenancies across England and Wales.

The network, which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains, as well as receivers Templeton LPA, based its projections on the thousands of properties it manages across the country. It fears the number of tenants in serious debt will "mushroom" further amid stubbornly high living costs.
The current level of severe arrears is the third-highest on LSL's records going back five years and comes despite a wider improvement seen in tenants' finances generally.

Another study recently produced by the network found that 8.2% of all rents were unpaid or late in May, falling back from 8.4% in April.

Rents have soared in recent years due to high demand as tenants have struggled to get on the property ladder, but the pace of the increases has slowed in recent months amid Government initiatives to help more people get access to mortgage finance.

Recent research from Shelter found that some tenants were resorting to "drastic" measures such as using payday loans to cover their rent. The charity said that calls to its helpline about rent increases or arrears had risen by almost a third over the past year.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Across England, increases in private sector rents in recent years have been modest, and below inflation.

"The Government is doing much to increase the supply of new homes to meet the demand. The Government has already delivered nearly 58,000 affordable homes - a third more than the average delivery in the 10 years up to 2010, and has brought back 55,000 empty homes back in to use. The Government's Build to Rent fund will support new, locally-led, large scale development for private rent, and we are investing £1 billion in that fund."

© 2013 Press Association