Advice and Guidance for Landlords and Tenants during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Updated May 13: All information below is based upon the latest government announcement and in line with current guidelines.
On May 13th the government announced that the property market is open again, with sales and rentals able to go ahead in as close to a normal way as possible. They also announced viewings can begin again so anyone looking to move to a new rental property or landlords with properties to let can move forward safely. Safety remains the key focus for all, with all social distancing measures kept to should viewings be arranged or face-to-face meetings be necessary.
The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting upon the incomes of people from all walks of life. From the lowest earners to those with large and successful property portfolios, we are all within our rights to be worried. Landlords and tenants both have their concerns, often for different reasons, and government guidance has been put in place to support both groups. No viral outbreak has affected the UK in such a way since the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and the world has changed greatly since that time. Renters in the private sector are understandably concerned about the risk of eviction and landlords too are worried they may not be able to receive rent payments from their tenants, and in turn not keep up their own mortgage payments.
Below we’re hoping to provide you with some clarity on the situation and hope to allay the fears of both tenants and landlords at this difficult time.
NEW LEGISLATION FOR TENANTS
From 26th March 2020 rights for tenants changed to support them through the COVID19 pandemic. As of this date landlords are required to give all tenants 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession of the property and end a tenancy. This buffer period applies in law until September 30th, 2020 and may be extended if necessary.
The protection will cover almost all tenants in England and Wales. Similarly, the court service has suspended all ongoing housing possession action too, so anyone in the process of being evicted will also be able to remain in their current property. This will last for an initial 90 days where it will be reassessed, and the government will look again at the best course of action.
Tenants need to remember they are still 100% liable for their rent and should continue to keep up their rent payments wherever possible. Where financial hardship becomes a problem then support is available and initially tenants are advised to speak to their landlord to come to an arrangement. Where this isn’t possible tenants can look for support from their local authority. The government are increasing Housing Benefit and Universal Credit as of April and Local Housing Allowance rates will also pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
Managing rent on top of other concerns at present is understandably a problem for many tenants, which is why there is support in place to keep people in their homes.
SUPPORT FOR LANDLORDS
Landlords were understandably worried when the government announced the end of evictions in the coming months. Many may be worried about managing their own income and paying their own mortgages, which is why there is specific support or landlords too.
Firstly, the government urges landlords to remain positive and on good terms with their tenants wherever possible. Landlords also benefit from the protection provided to all homeowners in the form of a 3-month mortgage payment holiday. This is the case for buy to let property owners too.
Non-urgent repairs should be rearranged for a later date and local authorities have been asked to be pragmatic and consider the risks of any enforcement activities during this period.
Landlords and tenants across the UK are urged to work together to mitigate and manage this problem, so when we are at the end of it all, we’re able to return to normal without any bad feelings or extensive debt issues.
Want more information? The Ministry of Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has also published new Covid-19 guidance for landlords and tenants. The information aims to provide landlords and tenants with an overview on notices for seeking possession, court proceedings and property access in order to meet health and safety obligations.
SUPPORTING OUR LANDLORDS AND TENANTS
At Bricks & Mortar, we understand how difficult times are and are here to support our customers in any way we can. We’re still open for business, just in a different way. We’re finding new and innovative solutions to ensure our tenants and landlords are looked after and given peace of mind.
Our remote services include expert tutoring in photography, so you can prepare your property for the rental market when things have returned to normal. Our professional team are also available for Zoom, Facetime or similar video conferencing meetings to discuss putting a property up for rent and appraising the value of the property for rent.
Tenants who are still keen to explore new home options for when things are calmer can also benefit from our video walkthroughs, providing virtual access to all of our rental properties. For any new properties where we don’t have a walkthrough we connect you to our clients via WhatsApp or FaceTime who then walk us around their property. This will help ensure you get a feel for any property you’re considering renting in the future. We are also able to offer regular viewings with the correct social distancing measures in place and are working in line with government guidelines to minimise risks. This may mean only one person can visit a property for a viewing but our video walkthroughs help to give a real feel of our properties.
And don’t forget the Bricks & Mortar MyPropertyFile user interface is still accessible anytime, anywhere.
To discuss more about our rental properties or if you have concerns as one of our landlords or tenants please just get in touch.