Residential Properties – A complete ban on evictions and additional protections for renters
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government is introducing emergency measures to protect all renters and private landlords. A link to the government’s full announcement is here, but we summarise it as follows:
- Emergency legislation will be introduced to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation for at least a three-month period.
- No new possession proceedings through applications to the court may be commenced during the outbreak.
- The three-month mortgage payment holiday announced for residential homeowners will be extended to buy-to-let landlords whose tenants are in financial difficulty because of the outbreak.
- It is not clear what will happen at the end of this period. The government announcement states that landlords and tenants will be “expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances”.
- The government will also issue guidance which asks landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by the coronavirus to remain in their homes wherever possible.
- The government is also extending the Pre-Action Protocol for possession claims by social landlords to include private landlords. The aim here is to encourage engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and means that landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.
- This suggests that the onus is left on landlords (and letting agents) to work out what happens next, with landlords expected to be pro-active in their discussions with tenants.
- While no announcements have been made regarding rent suspensions, it is clear that the government expects landlord and tenants to work together flexibility to decide rent payment plans on an individual basis.
- Landlords should contact their mortgage providers as soon as possible to notify the provider that they expect their tenant will experience difficulties in paying the rent as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
- It will be important for any agreed revised rent payment plan to be documented and signed by the parties.
The firm has also set up a support hub to assist with key issues arising from Covid-19. This covers a range of topics including contracting, supply chains and employment. A link to the support hub is here: https://www.freeths.co.uk/coronavirus/
If you would like to talk through the consequences for your business, call our Coronavirus Helpline on 0845 404 4111 for a free consultation (on appropriate commercial enquiries only).
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
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