Landlord perspectives on temporary PRS legislation explored in new research

Landlord perspectives on temporary PRS legislation explored in new research

A new report has been published that explores temporary legislation introduced by the UK and Scottish governments to prevent the pandemic leading to a surge in evictions in both the private rented sector (PRS) and the social rented sector.

The pandemic arrears crisis: Private landlord perspectives on the temporary legislation impacting the Private Rented Sector’ is the result of research conducted by Andrew Watson and Professor Nick Bailey.

According to the paper, while the legislation succeeded in preventing mass evictions during the worst of the pandemic, it has stored up a different set of problems as rent arrears for private – and social – landlords have risen substantially. 

Many of the temporary measures are not slated to expire until March 2022, around two years after some were introduced. The question the paper asks is how we ‘unwind’ this situation, navigating a return to more normal conditions in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) without leaving large numbers of tenants at high risk of eviction, and without leaving large numbers of landlords shouldering substantial pandemic arrears.

The report identifies the volume and value of rental arrears; the arrears management approach adopted by landlords; landlord intentions regarding evictions; and landlord financial resilience levels. Drawing on these insights, the report suggests measures to try to release the tensions stored up by the temporary legislation.

These include:

  1. Retain pre-action requirements to encourage better approaches to arrears management by private landlords who may otherwise rely too heavily on legal action.
  2. Return notice periods to the pre-pandemic situation at the end of March 2022 but retain Tribunal discretion in arrears cases to allow individual circumstances to be taken into account.
  3. Continue the provision of additional financial support for tenants offered by the Scottish Government but monitor demand closely as the scale of the fund (currently £10m) appears very small in comparison with the scale of rent arrears (estimated £126m).

The report will be of particular interest to policy makers, local authorities, membership, and third sector organisations.

Andrew Watson is a researcher at the University of Glasgow. His work is focused on understanding the investment behaviours of landlords and their impact upon investment returns and conditions within the sector.

Nick Bailey is director of the Urban Big Data Centre and a professor of Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow. His work is focused on housing, urban policy and poverty. He has a long-standing interest in the role of the private rented sector within the housing system.

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