The number of landlords chasing unpaid rent has nearly tripled since the pandemic began, as even wealthy tenants have begun to default on payments.
Instructions for rent debt recovery services have surged by 180pc in the last year, compared to the previous 12 months, according to Landlord Action, an eviction firm.
Paul Shamplina, of the repossession service, said a large share of claims had been made against tenants who had enough money to cover their bills, but withheld rent because their landlords could not remove them during the pandemic eviction ban.
Mr Shamplina cited a landlord who recently reclaimed £14,950 in arrears, who had said his rogue tenant had refused to pay despite having access to £250,000.
“I have always taken my tenants’ personal circumstances into account, but this tenant ran a company which had £250,000 in the bank. They abused the restrictions put in place by the Government which were designed to help those in need,” the landlord said.
“The tenants purchased a property, renovated it and managed to pay the mortgage, all whilst living in my property for free.”
The tenants stopped paying rent in October 2019 and were able to stay in the property through lockdown due to the Covid eviction ban.
Mr Shamplina said another landlord client was trying to recover rent debt of £200,000.
“What many of our cases have in common is that the tenants had the means to pay. For example, another case is against a practising doctor who owes £42,000,” said Mr Shamplina.
Between April 2021 and March 2022, landlords made 400 debt recovery claims through Landlord Action.
The lack of protection from rogue tenants during the pandemic has spooked landlords who are also wary of incoming Energy Performance Certificate targets that mean they will have to pay up to £10,000 per property on eco upgrades.
Some are selling up as a result and this could be part of the reason why there has also been a surge in landlords evicting tenants who have not defaulted on their rent payments.
Between October and December 2021, 5,260 households were threatened with homelessness due to service of a Section 21 “no-fault” eviction notice, a jump of 37pc compared to the same period in 2019, according to Government data.