The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly changed personal lives and the economy. UK firms have suffered because of the outbreak. Staying at home to help stop the spread of the virus meant businesses had to adapt to online methods to stay open.
Many businesses also felt the fire as some customers, people who before the pandemic relied on monthly salaries, became unemployed or put on furlough, now due to end on October 1 2021.
The property industry was no stranger to this change. Savings and lending bank Shawbrook Bank reported that nearly half (46%) have lowered their tenant’s monthly rent payments as a direct result of the pandemic.
Shawbrook Bank conducted a study on 1,000 landlords. These included 150 portfolio landlords, those are landlords who own four or more properties. 1,000 private tenants were also studied on their property portfolio and rental situation.
Whether they took a payment holiday or rent reduction during the pandemic, what they look for in a property and whether their property plans have changed following Covid-19 was analysed.
Impact of payment holidays and rent reduction on the industry
Payment holidays are offered by some loans and mortgages. As long as this is agreed within advance they allow people to miss the occasional monthly payment. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, payment holidays have been relied on heavily as an economic support measure.
John Eastgate, managing director of property finance at Shawbrook Bank, comments: “No amount of foresight could have prepared landlords, or tenants, for the impact of the pandemic.”
“During this incredibly difficult period, landlords acted pragmatically, recognising the additional strain their tenants were under. In fact, in many cases, landlords were initiating the conversation around cutting rents to ease their financial burden.”
Landlords estimate they suffered losses by offering payment holidays. Although these only last for three months on average, an estimated £7,500 on average was lost by landlords by offering payment holidays.
While rent reductions cost landlords £6,500 on average and lasted four months on average. In total, 28% of landlords gave their tenants a full rent payment holiday whereas 18% offered a rent reduction.
Over a third of landlords who gave said that they proactively offered a form of rent reduction to their tenant, while a further 45% said it was a mutual decision.
Portfolio landlords – those owning four or more properties - were more likely to have agreed to a rent reduction with their tenants compared to single property landlords; some 17% of portfolio landlords admitted to missing out on income compared to just 12% of single property landlords.
What this means going forward
Eastgate concludes: “This period has clearly underlined the critically important role that the private rental sector is playing, and will continue to play, in the UK housing market. Responsible landlords have shown their reliability during a crisis, understanding the changing needs of their tenants and acting quickly.”
“Solid fundamentals will underpin the market going forward, landlords and investors should look to a positive future. There is a strong argument to suggest that landlords in regional locations have never been in a better position to profit, while city centres will continue to represent good value as workers head back to the office, even if it is on a part-time basis.”
Shawbrook Bank’s research is part of a new report, due to be published this month, which will provide an overarching look at the Buy-to-Let market.