20 Sep 2021

The latest research by lettings agency Benham and Reeves has analysed how the pandemic has affected the UK rental market when it comes to rogue tenants and the time and cost required to evict them.

The research found that, with long court delays and eviction notice periods at the height of the pandemic climbing to six months, the amount of time to evict a rogue tenant has reached just shy of a full 12 months (51 weeks).

With this in mind, Benham and Reeves says those starting proceedings in September 2020 in anticipation of the eviction ban lifting may not have regained control of their property until some time after the ban was lifted in June of this year.

Before eviction proceedings resumed for a brief period in September last year, prior to further lockdowns in the late autumn and winter months and when a six-month timeframe was still being implemented on eviction notices, the average rent across the UK was £985 per month.

The agency says that those unlucky enough to fall foul of a rogue tenant at this monthly rate of rental income will have seen an annual loss in rental income to the tune of £11,820.

Benham and Reeves adds that a rogue tenant can also cause significant damage to a property and it’s not unusual for landlords to have to fork out thousands ‘to refit their kitchen and bathroom, redecorate their property and even replace the windows’.

These costs, the agency claims, can climb extremely high and even the average property will require ‘a refurb budget in excess of £20,000 to rectify these basic bricks and mortar fundamentals’.

The research also states that landlords must spend an average of £3,000 on legal fees to either evict or reclaim damages from a rogue tenant, all of which brings the average cost of a rogue tenant to £35,558 for the average UK landlord.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, landlords in the capital have faced the most expensive costs of evicting a rogue tenant during the pandemic, due to London’s more expensive rent values, bringing the average total cost there to £43,574. This is followed by the South East (£36,578), the East (£35,186), and the South West (£34,526).

Meanwhile, the lowest cost of evicting a rogue tenant has been in the North East, although the total cost of a rogue tenant still hits £30,290

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented: “The situation for landlords throughout the pandemic has been shocking and while eviction notice periods have now been reduced to four months, many continue to lose thousands in rental income every month due to rogue tenants and the long delays suffered while trying to evict them,” Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said.

“We’re talking about professional crooks who have taken severe advantage of legislation designed to support those who are actually suffering financially and are in need of support.”

He went on: “We had one particular case where a tenant moved into a new property at Television Centre in October 2019 and only ever paid the first month’s rent and nothing thereafter. The eviction hearing was on 30th March this year and we couldn’t get a bailiff appointment until 25th August 2021. The poor owner suffered a loss of over £50,000 plus, to add salt to the wounds, the tenant stole all the landlord’s furniture.”

von Grundherr added: “We have another property we are yet to repossess as the tenant has claimed on three separate occasions when the bailiff has been scheduled that both her and her partner have Covid-19. Therefore, the eviction can’t take place adding a further two or three weeks for a new bailiff appointment in the process.”

“These guys are utilising every trick in the book and so the reality is that many evictions are stretching on far longer than a year.”

He said that rogue tenants are a landlord’s worst nightmare and ‘unfortunately this nightmare rarely ends when they are finally evicted’.

“More often than not, the property is in severe disrepair when it is finally repossessed and this is sometimes done out of spite, or simply to strip the property of materials they can then sell on,” von Grundherr continued.

“What’s more, the landlord will have usually suffered arrears prior to starting the eviction process and is still required to make mortgage payments out of their own pocket during a period where their property is generating no income.”

He concluded: “Unfortunately, legislative changes in recent years and particularly during the pandemic have focussed solely on the wellbeing of tenants and so the backbone of the UK rental market has been further weakened as landlords are left high and dry to pick up the pieces.”

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