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Housing sector arrears reach record levels as lockdown bites: report

Arrears in the housing sector have reached a record high, with more than £1bn now outstanding, according to the latest HouseMark COVID-19 impact data.

HouseMark, one of the UK housing sector’s largest membership organisations, said this represented a global increase of around 30%, which equates to an additional £300m since March 2020.

Forecasts estimate that arrears levels may not return to pre-pandemic levels until March 2022, it added.  

HouseMark Chief Executive Laurice Ponting said: “As we reflect on 10 months of the pandemic, our UK sector wide monthly impact analysis has established a clear link between lockdown measures and arrears. When the tier system was introduced, our October analysis showed that those areas operating with tougher restrictions reported average arrears levels 40% higher than their counterparts and, in some cases, landlords reported a 100% increase. Urban areas with higher levels of deprivation are also being disproportionately affected. 

“Landlords are facing increased operating costs against a backdrop of complex challenges. We are working closely with our members and the wider-sector to contextualise the impact of the pandemic and provide the on-time insight and forecasts they need to take mitigating action with confidence.” 

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