Landlords went to court to evict thousands of tenants in the last quarter of 2015, according to a new report.

The survey by leading letting agents Your Move and Reeds Rains revealed 26,676 possession orders were issued by county courts.

The number was slightly down on the previous quarter, but 5% down on the 28,167 orders issued in the same period for 2014.

Around a third of these tenants were in ‘serious arrears’, owing more than two month’s rent.

Landlords report that 82,900 tenants are in serious arrears in the first quarter of 2015 – down 1,500 on the final three months of 2014.

The number represents 1.6% of all buy to let tenants, who owed 6.8% of all rent due in January.

Rent arrears have dropped significantly since February 2010, when almost 15% of all rent due was paid late.

Fewer landlords are in buy to let mortgage arrears. Lenders say 5,500 landlords are three months or more behind with their repayments, down 3.5% from the final quarter of 2014.

Buy to let mortgage arrears have plunged by more than half (54%) in a year, when 11,900 landlords owed lenders money.

“Landlords and the buy to let industry have come in for serious criticism over the last year – but the overwhelming evidence points to a vital, growing and successful industry” said a spokesman for the two agencies, both owned by LSL Property Services. 

“Landlords are providing more homes to let every month, expanding supply for tenants – who avoid any serious problems paying the rent in more than 98% of cases.

“When late rent does happen, landlords appear to be extremely flexible in the majority of cases, and eviction orders are decreasingly necessary. Buy-to-let mortgages are also increasingly reliable for lenders, as landlords are ever less likely to fall into arrears themselves.”