Rentify would like to thank everyone who took part in our recent landlord surveys. We thought you’d be interested in seeing some of the results, not only so you can get an idea of other landlords’ methods but also to see if they prompt any ideas for new services or products we could offer to make life easier for you. We are always keen to hear your feedback so leave a comment below or get in touch on 020 7739 3277 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The results are far too wide-ranging for one blog post so this week we’ll just look at rent arrears.
We saw some interesting results regarding arrears. While some of our focus group had experienced arrears, they were unanimous in saying that these were not on the increase. In the survey, however, 91% of landlords identified arrears as an issue for them but only 46% said instances were rising. The disparity between the focus group and survey may be partly due to an interpretation of what constitutes arrears. Our London-based focus group of portfolio-builders only saw arrears as being payments over two-weeks late with no contact from the tenant. It’s understandable if other landlords who depend on just one or two rental properties would be less inclined to grant so much slack. It may also simply be that cases of arrears are more frequent outside of London or at least are more noticeable and readily acknowledged.
The notion that instances of arrears are on the increase has been supported in various recent reports, such as that by Countrywide and local studies in Wiltshire, Swindon and East Lothian. The local studies are directly linked to the changes in the benefits system, whereas the Countrywide index links a nationwide recent increase to rises in the average rent. Rentify’s surveys show only a relatively limited agreement with this and we suggest that the link between rent increases and arrears increases can be overemphasised, especially since rent increases are often at a rate below inflation. The changes to the benefits system seem to be a much more important factor in any increases in cases of arrears. At this stage it’s uncertain whether this is a teething problem or a more deep-rooted issue.