Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic a range of temporary reforms have been announced by the UK Government relating to the private rental sector in order to keep tenants safe and protect them from the virus. During these times landlords and their agents need to be aware of their obligations and ensure that they are adhering to the new rules.
The Property Hive have created this brief guide to assist landlords with understanding the new temporary measures and what is expected from them. Please note this is not an exhaustive guide and so our advice to landlords is to spend some to researching government and local authority websites where there is a wealth of information available.
Tenants are expected to continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. The government has a strong package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal they should do. The Property Hive have been working with tenants of the properties we manage to make sure they are aware of all the help available to them in order to minimise the financial impacts on our customers.
Landlords are not required to do this. Most tenants should still be able to pay rent as normal and will remain liable for the rent during this period. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach, as each tenant’s circumstance will be different, and some will be worse affected in terms of their ability to pay than others. Flexibility is key in the current climate and it is important for landlords or their agents to have a frank and open conversation with their tenants at the earliest opportunity, to allow both parties to agree a sensible way forward.
Landlords should continue with their mortgage payments where possible. Mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays of up to three months where this is needed due to Coronavirus-related hardship, including for buy-to-let mortgages. The sum owed remains and mortgages continue to accrue interest during this period. Where a tenant is unable to pay their rent in full the landlord – if a mortgagor – should discuss this with their lender at the earliest opportunity.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 has implemented new rules that state until 30th September 2020, most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three-months notice. Landlords can choose to give more than this three months notice. As well as the provisions in the act, all possession cases in the courts have been suspended for new or existing claims for possession for a 90 day period from 27th March.
Landlord's repair obligations have not changed. Tenants have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live – and it is in the best interests of both tenants and landlords to ensure that properties are kept in good repair and free from hazards. In these unprecedented times we are encouraging tenants and landlords to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to non-urgent issues which are affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.
Urgent health and safety issues will need to be addressed which will affect the tenant’s ability to live safely in their home. This could include (but is not limited to):
Where reasonable and safe for all parties and in line with other Government guidance, we are working with contractors to access properties in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues.
Landlords or their agents are expected make every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations and electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July. There are provisions in both regulations to account for situations in which a landlord cannot do this and they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. The government are encouraging local authorities and other enforcement agencies to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to enforcement in these unprecedented times. If you are not able to gain access to the property due to restrictions in place to tackle COVID-19, or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, we recommend that attempts to do so are documented and all correspondence with tenants is retained. The Property Hive are working with both electrical contractors and gas engineers to ensure the properties we manage remain compliant and inspections are carried out in accordance with the government guidelines.
If you have any concerns regarding your obligations as landlord during the outbreak, The Property Hive Estate & Letting Agents are here to help, please don't hesitate to give us a buzz on 01302 247754. Our offices in Doncaster are closed to the public at the moment, but our team is continuing to operate an normal throughout this period and are here to assist.
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