‘Sharpen up arrears process’ agents told as eviction truce starts

Today is the start of the official Christmas eviction ban ‘truce’ in the private rental sector – and it continues until January 11, with no enforcement action allowed in England until January 25.

In practice this truce period is simply a further extension of the enforcement halt that has existed for some weeks, and which followed the formal ban on serving possession notices since March this year.

In response to this unprecedented year and the latest truce period, PropTech entrepreneur Neil Cobbold is advising agents to “sharpen up their arrears management processes” over the festive period.

Cobbold, chief sales officer at automated payment supplier PayProp, says: “Rent arrears tend to build up during the festive period, pushing many landlords to pursue eviction through the courts. However, with their options more limited than usual, alternatives to eviction should be investigated first, and the role of letting agents as mediators will be crucial.”

He suggests agencies can help by promoting more communication between landlord and tenants, either preventing or reducing arrears through effective reminders or organising affordable repayment plans.

“By digitally recording all payments and automating arrears chasing and employing the services of a dedicated eviction expert, agents can better navigate the changing rules during this trying period” he advises.

While there is substantial hope the roll-out of a vaccine may lead to a gradual return to normal practices in the private rental sector in 2021, Cobbold cautions that many challenges remain.

“The minimum notice period for evictions (except for the most serious cases) remains at six months until March at the earliest. Meanwhile, there will also be the renewed prospect of Section 21 being scrapped as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, further curtailing options.”

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