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Energy and food prices have soared throughout this year, Parliamentary sources suggest that the average cost of gas has increased by 141% since winter 2021/22 and electric by 65%, predominantly driven by the conflict in the Ukraine.
The cost of renting a property has also increased during this period. Rightmove recently calculated the median rent in England outside of the capital as £1,162 PCM, higher than at any other time in history, as landlords struggle to keep up with their own soaring mortgage rates.
To compound the issue, the Commons Treasury Committee last week heard that many private landlords could be set to leave the sector altogether as they are squeezed out by a combination of these higher mortgage rates and a weakening of their ability to recover possession of their properties from tenants.
With rising costs, we’re predicting a winter of discontent, with many households being forced to make a choice between ‘heating and eating’, and at worse – homelessness.
As a tenant, it would be easy to place the blame for rising rent on landlords, but the simple fact is that they are also at the mercy of higher prices. The buy-to-let sector is set to see greater levels of stress than other areas of the mortgage market, with landlords unlikely to secure a mortgage of more than 50%-60% of the property value.
Landlords are therefore faced with a tough choice. If they raise their rent to survive, they risk their tenant falling behind on their rental obligations. This would leave them out of pocket for long periods of time until they can either reach a payment agreement with their tenant or recover the property at huge personal cost, not to mention the stress and anxiety of commencing a court ordered eviction.
At this time, we can fully recognise the benefits of Legal Expenses and Rent Guarantee (LERG) insurance. LERG offers peace of mind when renting out properties and offers rent protection to landlords and letting agents in the event of a tenant defaulting on their tenancy agreement; it also covers legal expenses incurred, such as in evicting a tenant.
Landlords have already had a difficult few years. The COVID-19 pandemic, which cost many UK residents their income, had a significant impact on the rental sector with tenants left unable to pay rent. In the early months of the pandemic, we saw claims under LERG policies triple as landlords sought to recover their losses and get help in reaching a fair resolution with their tenants. We had begun to see claims levels return to normality in 2022, but with the current economic climate and the promise of a long, hard winter for many – I predict that landlords will once again, be reaching for their phones to seek help.
At Arc Legal we pride ourselves on our ability to act quickly but sustainably, in response to market changes, ensuring our products remain ‘fit for purpose’ and offer excellent value and protection to our clients and their customers. We’ll be keeping a close watch on the market, as we go through this cost-of-living crisis together, and work hard to ensure that landlords are supported in protecting their income.
Richard Finan, Director of Strategic Development, Arc Legal Group
If you require any further information in relation to this update, or details of our products and services, please contact your Partnerships Manager or email [email protected].