Agents and landlords must prepare for increased festive arrears according to Neil Cobbold, chief sales officer at PayProp.

Since March 2020, an increasing number of limitations have been placed on property possession claims through the courts.

This has resulted in increased difficulty for landlords and letting agencies to deal effectively with serious issues such as rent arrears.

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Cobbold outlined that the scare supply of repossession options will continue over the coming weeks due to an extended Christmas evictions truce between December 11 and January 11 2021, with no enforcement action allowed in England until January 25.

Rent arrears tend to build up during the festive period, pushing many landlords to pursue eviction through the courts.

However, with options more limited than usual, Cobbold believes that alternatives to eviction should be investigated first, and the role of letting agents as mediators will be crucial.

Cobbold went on to explain that letting agencies can help by effectively and proactively managing communication between landlords 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.

Looking to next year, Cobbold outlined that the prospect of a successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the financial support provided by an extension to the furlough scheme could improve the situation and pave the way for more normal eviction avenues to resume.

Despite this, he believes that there will still challenges ahead as the minimum notice period for evictions, except for the most serious cases, remains at six months until March at the earliest.

There will also be the renewed prospect of Section 21 being scrapped as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, further curtailing options.