COVID-19: Quarter of tenants aren't confident they can pay rent over the next three months

Christien PhebyContent Manager
April 20, 2020, 8:24 AM UTC

Over four in ten private renters (45%) expect landlords to demand payment – even if the pandemic leaves them unable to pay

In March, the Government introduced a series of measures designed to protect tenants and landlords from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – including buy-to-let mortgage holidays and a blanket ban on evictions for three months.

Despite these measures, new YouGov polling indicates that a quarter of tenants (26%) aren’t sure they’ll be able to afford their rent over the next three months.

Some 15% say they’re not very confident about the prospect of paying their housing costs – while one in ten (11%) say they have no confidence they’ll be able to pay at all. 

A plurality of private tenants say landlords will demand rent money regardless of COVID-19

While landlord associations have argued that buy-to-let property owners should show flexibility where possible, they’ve also expressed concern that tenants might see the coronavirus crisis as a ‘green light’ to avoid paying their housing costs. 

Tenants aren’t necessarily expecting much sympathy. Even if coronavirus leaves them unable to afford rent, 45% of those Brits who are letting their accommodation privately expect their landlords to insist on payment anyway. Just three in ten (29%) believe their landlords would give them a break, while a quarter (27%) say they don’t know either way.

A significant proportion of Brits have already been hit hard by COVID-19: 14% say they’ve either lost their jobs or seen a reduction in their pay/working hours, and consumer confidence data shows that March saw the largest monthly fall in household finance estimates on record. In these adverse circumstances, the Government has encouraged landlords to work with tenants on repayment plans and (as mentioned) allowed them to defer their mortgages.

More than a third of tenants with children aren’t confident they can pay rent

Some groups of renters are less confident about paying their accommodation costs than others. Those aged from 25 to 34 are both more likely to rent the home in which they live (44% versus 35% of 18 to 24 year olds, 34% of 35 to 44 year olds, 27% of 45 to 54 year olds and 19% of those over 55) and more likely to be uncertain about their prospects of paying. More than a third (36%) aren’t sure they’ll be able to make rent: a fifth (21%) say they’re not very confident that they’ll be able to afford their payments over the next three months, and 15% say they’re not at all confident.

Tenants with children in their homes are also more likely to be pessimistic about their chances of paying for their housing. Of this group, 18% say they’re not very confident that they’ll be able to make rent over the next three months, while 17% say they have no confidence that they can do so at all. 

See the full results here