A coronavirus cash crisis is gripping the lettings industry as thousands of tenants have failed to pay rent during the lockdown.
The courts face a backlog of more than 2,400 cases involving rent arrears of £3 million generated since the eviction ban started in March, according to a lettings industry group with the backing of more than 100 property companies.
Another 613 cases are stuck from going ahead despite winning eviction orders before the lockdown started.
The Lettings Industry Council fears judges may take up to a year to deal with eviction claims.
Before the lockdown, the time between starting and finalising an eviction claim was 23 weeks.
The government’s eviction ban is set for review on August 23, fuelling concerns the amount of arrears will rise even higher.
Data from the council suggests landlords are owed an average £1,250 for each private home where tenants are behind with their rent because they have lost their job or are on furlough.
Eviction claims are not only for rent arrears. Landlords also face a mounting list of tenants staying beyond the end of their rent agreements and need help to remove anti-social tenants damaging properties and upsetting neighbours.
Council chair Theresa Wallace said: “There is undoubtedly going to be a backlog of court cases when the courts start hearing cases again, which needs to be sooner rather than later.
“Sadly some tenancies will need to come to an end once Covid restrictions are lifted, either for non-payment of rent, because tenants have caused a nuisance to other tenants and neighbours, or because the owner needs to move back into their home.”
The government suggests landlords request a mortgage holiday and that they should pass the favour on by suspending rent while not making payments – if tenants agree to repay the money over an agreed term.