Landlord Michelle* (not her real name) can’t remember the last time she wasn’t worried about money.
As a single mum, currently looking for work due to a new job falling through because of coronavirus, Michelle never imagined she’d be in the situation she is in at the moment when she first decided to let her rental property out a decade ago.
As if juggling home schooling and looking for secure work during a pandemic wasn’t enough to be dealing with; the tenant currently living in her rental property has not paid a penny of rent since December.
“I had to cancel my sons Christmas present because I couldn’t afford it due to not being paid any rent”
The first month Michelle noticed her tenant had missed a rental payment, she tried to make contact with them to see what was going on-and if she could help at all.
As a landlord she’s used to letting her property to tenants on benefits or low incomes, and helping them with their Universal Credit payments.
So she got in touch to see if the tenant had perhaps fallen on hard times, and to learn more if they needed any support.
Fast forward three months to March, and despite multiple attempts to try to engage with the tenant, Michelle had still not received a penny of rent from the tenant. Added to which, he has convictions for harassing neighbours.
Michelle knows that due to the pandemic the tenant is still receiving an income, and has been furloughed, but is simply choosing to not engage with her-even though she’d be open to arranging a rent reduction.
Reliance on the rent as her income
Given Michelle relies on the money she receives from renting out her property for her livelihood, and that the tenant was still refusing to engage or pay any rent-she reluctantly decided to begin the process of gaining possession of her property.
By the middle of March, she had submitted court papers in order to gain possession of the property from the non-paying tenant.
But just a matter of days later-the Government announced a ban on all evictions for three months, something that has now been extended again.
The decision was one that dismayed Michelle, who is now extremely worried about meeting her own living costs because the tenant continues to not pay rent, but also for the welfare of neighbours at her property.
“My tenant is still continuing to live rent free-I don’t make any money on the property – it’s in negative equity so I’m trying to save up the short fall to sell it.
“I’m a single parent and due to the pandemic have found myself potentially unemployed as a new job I was about to take up has fallen through. So here I am, a single parent, with uncertainty about my future income, subsidising the living costs of a man who is receiving furlough money and simply chooses to not pay his rent”.
The extension of the eviction ban now means that Michelle is powerless to gain possession of her property, despite the tenant breaching several parts of the contract.
- The NRLA is calling for courts to urgently deal with anti-social behaviour and domestic violence cases when they are allowed to begin to hear repossession cases again. Read more about this and the NRLA’s five point plan here.
- The NRLA is also urging members to write to their local MP about their own experiences. Members can do this easily, using our tool
- The landlord featured in this story recently shared their story on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours show. You can listen to this again below.