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The impact of COVID-19 on letting agents in Northern Ireland

Thursday 13 August 2020

ARLA Propertymark responded to a consultation from the Department of Communities (Northern Ireland) looking at areas of concern impacting letting agents throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

Member agents located across Northern Ireland who manage tenancies in County Down, Belfast, Country Antrim, and Londonderry provided vital feedback.   

Tenant arrears

A third of ARLA Propertymark members surveyed said that all the rent owed has been paid over the three-month period from April to June 2020. In contrast over half of members surveyed said that two-thirds of rent owed had been paid and less than ten per cent of members outlined only one-third of the rent owed had been paid.

In addition, a total of 92 per cent of agents surveyed reached some form of agreement with some or all those tenants who fell into arrears. We know that many agents took early action at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic to connect those tenants facing financial difficulty with the various funds and schemes available to support them.

Notice to Quit

The vast majority (67 per cent) of ARLA Propertymark members surveyed said they had not issued a 12-week notice to quit to any of their tenants during the three-month period between April and June 2020.

Moving forward, we believe that tenant arrears prior to the Coronavirus pandemic should be treated separately. However, unfortunately, tenants already in arrears have now been given additional cover through the Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 to continue to stay at properties for months without paying rent.

Propertymark's consultation response