Landlord and tenant

Your rights as a landlord and the impact of COVID-19?

With the Governments pledge to assist tenants who find themselves in financial difficulty due to the Coronavirus many landlords are concerned what the impact on them will be. We take a look at some of our most frequently asked questions.

Causal business meeting

My tenants haven’t paid their rent, what can I do?

Many tenants self-isolating (or in lock down, once put into effect) are going to be in financial difficulty.

Encourage your tenants to engage with you positively at this stage, as this will pave the way for more constructive discussions that will need to be held once the crisis has subsided.

If a tenant doesn’t engage and you decide to serve notice, the Government has amended the

Housing Act to require new s8 and s21 notices to provide a notice period of three months, notices already served are unaffected.

There’s no suspension on new claims for possession, however, even without a hold being

placed on existing claims, any lock down situation will have an impact upon the Courts and their ability to hear such claims.

What are my repairing obligations as landlord?

Unless the Government’s provisions state otherwise (there’s no indication it will do so), technically a landlord’s repairing obligations are unchanged. On a practical note, compliance with routine repairing obligations will be impacted by the requirements for you/your tenants to self-isolate or enter into a lock-down situation.

Ensure you or your tenant have to hand all relevant contact details and reference numbers for items such as boiler home care cover, emergency plumber etc, so that any urgent issues can be addressed as effectively as possible.

I am trying to obtain an order to evict my tenant for issues unrelated to coronavirus, what is the position?

Any existing notices are unaffected by the Bill. After implementation of the Bill, the provisions for new notices to include a three month notice period will apply to all grounds for possession.

What is the position after the crisis has passed if my tenant will not engage regarding rent arrears?

The Government’s announcement included reference to issuing “guidance which asks landlord to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by this to remain in their homes wherever possible”. This will rely upon those parties engaging with one another as outlined above.

However, where landlord and tenant cannot agree, landlords seeking to regain possession will need to demonstrate compliance with the pre-action protocol for social housing. In short, this will require the landlord to demonstrate forbearance prior to bringing a claim (though there are other requirements, these do not sit naturally with a private landlord’s position).

This will cause landlords additional delay where a tenant has refused to engage so far. Also, quite how the requirement to exercise forbearance would sit alongside a mandatory ground for possession remains to be seen.

I’m struggling to pay my mortgage, what help can I get?

Part of the Government’s stated objectives are to help those struggling to pay their

mortgage. The initial failure to include buy to let mortgages has now been addressed, and mortgage holidays will be offered to landlords whose tenants have been impacted by the coronavirus.

Aside from those provisions, those struggling with secured debt should bear in mind that

lenders will have to be mindful of the forbearance obligations on first mortgage debt, and the requirement for the debtor-creditor relationship to be “fair” on second/ subsequent mortgage debt.

Landlords may take comfort from the FCA’s release setting out that firms are “to provide strong support and service to customers during this period” and that they “welcome firms taking initiatives going beyond usual business practices to support their customers”.

To speak to a member of our legal advice team please call 0330 041 5869 or contact us online here.

PLEASE NOTE: this information was correct at the time of review - 24th April 2020

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