23 March 2020

Coronavirus and the private rented sector

By Danny Turpin, Solicitor, Hayes + Storr.

The Government has announced it will bring in emergency legislation to deal with the increased concern of renters during the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s likely that many tenants will see their incomes drop during the current crisis which could impact on their ability to pay their rent on time. If you’re renting a property and have been financially affected by coronavirus, the best advice is to contact your letting agent or landlord and explain your situation.

It is incumbent on both landlords and tenants to work together during this difficult time and one option could be for landlords to allow payments to be made in instalments with any balance of rent payable when circumstances return to normal.

If you’re a landlord with a buy-to-let mortgage and your tenant is having difficulty paying their rent in full and on time, contact your lender and explain the situation. Your lender should be in a position to offer you a mortgage holiday for a period of three months to assist at this time. Lenders will have different policies in place and different approaches, so ask them what they are offering in the way of support.

The emergency legislation is going to prevent all evictions for a period of three months. On the back of the Government’s announcement to bring forward the legislation, we have already seen some County Courts cancelling upcoming eviction hearings as a matter of course.

Interestingly, the government appears to be suggesting that the emergency legislation will affect all possession proceedings, not just those that relate to rent arrears brought about by the coronavirus. This is likely to be a policy decision to ensure that nobody is made homeless or has to move at a time where the guidance is to avoid all unnecessary travel.

The guidance at present is sufficiently unclear and the government should act quickly to clarify the position so that we can expect consistent application across the board.

If you are a landlord or tenant and require any advice at this difficult time, please contact us on 01328 863231 or email law@hayes-storr.com.

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.