Portsmouth landlords say justice system allows 'tiny minority' of tenants to 'game the system' by not paying rent

LANDLORDS have said there has been a ‘lack of access’ to courts letting a ‘tiny minority’ of renters ‘game the system’ during lockdown.

By Ben Fishwick
Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 4:55 am

The Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association said tenants have tried hard to pay the bills but difficulties in taking court action is letting some get away with not paying.

And the association also fears more people will fall into debt when both the Universal Credit £20 uplift and furlough scheme cease in coming weeks.

Alwin Oliver, vice chairman of PDPLA, said landlords were currently put off from taking court action.

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Alwin Oliver, vice chairman of Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association. Picture: Ben Fishwick

He said: ‘Most tenants have tried really hard to maintain their rent accounts, but where there are arrears they seem to be getting to a more serious stage and are a bit harder to resolve, partly because of personal circumstances.

‘But also there is no doubt in my mind that the lack of access for landlords to courts is allowing a tiny minority to game the system.

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‘While it is now possible (to go to court) I suspect the complexities of the court system, the higher arrears now required before and longer notice periods before a claim can be brought to court all have their part to play.’

He added 45 per cent of landlords own just one property, accounting for 21 per cent of the private rental sector. Most landlords own two to three properties.

He said: ‘The first thing to say is a contract is a contract and it would not be acceptable to default on a car agreement or even membership of a gym, yet in many cases landlords are dependent on rent for their own income as well as having mortgages to cover, so the income is much more important to them.’

He added: ‘Almost 40 per cent of landlords are small portfolio landlords who are already retired and dependent on rental for pension income.

‘The lack of access to justice has hit them hard.’

Chairman Martin Silman added: ‘We are not at the end yet and many have got deeper and deeper into debt over the past 18 months, but the real pain will not show until furlough ends, Universal Credit reduces and the courts start to catch up sadly.’

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