New research has revealed the £10 million cost in rent arrears to private landlords in the North East during Covid.
It has been carried out by the estate and lettings agent, Barrows and Forrester, which showed that the amount has soared from the first to the second wave of the pandemic.
In the North East, the report said the figure went up from £7,602,350 in June/July 2020 to £9,847,530 in November/December, a massive 30% increase.
Read more: Go here for the latest regional affairs and North East politics news
There are 203,000 private rental households in the North East, according to researchers.
During wave one of the pandemic restrictions figures from the Office for National Statistics estimated that 7% of these households, equalling 14,210, were at least one month behind on their rent.
With an average rent in the region then of £535, that added up to over £7.6 million.
By November/December the ONS said 9% were in arrears - 18,270 in this region - and with the monthly rent up to £539, that added up to over £9.8 million.
Nationally there are 4.8 million private rented households in England with an average rent in England in July of £826 per month. This means the total rent arrears during wave one was at least £277.3 million.
Taking into account the increase of those in arrears and monthly rent rising to £846, Barrows and Forrester estimates the cash total of arrears to have been at least £365.3 million.
This marks an increase of 31.75% from wave one, a cash difference of just over £88 million.
Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented: “The first two waves of the pandemic shook the rental market to the core.
"All of a sudden, many tenants who had no previous problems with paying rent on time found themselves out of work, or at least having their hours significantly cut as employers tried desperately to find a route to survival during an unprecedented moment in modern history.
"This left hundreds of thousands of people unable to afford steady rent payments and so the government stepped in to protect them, making it almost impossible for landlords to evict them during the height of the pandemic.
"As a result, when wave two arrived, we saw a 2% rise in the number of private rental households in arrears which came at a considerable cost to the nation’s landlords.
"We are starting to see normality return to the rental market but this will do little to comfort those landlords who are now severely out of pocket and should a third wave materialise, we will no doubt see yet another increase in the total amount of rental arrears seen across the market.”
For a North East politics and regional affairs digest direct to your inbox, go here to sign up to the free Northern Agenda newsletter