Landlords’ and Tenants’ Rights During Covid-19

On March 18th, the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced new emergency Covid-19 legislation to protect private tenants from eviction if they struggled to pay their rent. It was just one of many sweeping measures aimed at mitigating the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. 

In this article, we’ll look at landlords’ and tenants’ rights during Covid-19 and the fallout from the government’s extensive changes. Read on, and find out how the package of policies protects landlords and tenants affected by Covid-19.

Protection for tenants during Covid-19

“The Government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.” Those were the words of Robert Jenrick, the UK housing secretary, on March 18th, when he announced new legislation in the UK rental market. 

He was referring to an announcement that aimed to protect private tenants from eviction for at least three months. The government also strongly advised landlords not to commence new notices seeking possession during the current climate unless they had “a very good reason to do so.” 

What does it mean for tenants?

Pre-outbreak, landlords were required to give tenants two months’ notice before asking them to vacate a  property. Under the new rules, tenants are safeguarded for a further month. It means that, realistically, no tenant in the UK will face eviction until June at the earliest. 

However, it doesn’t mean that tenants won’t need to pay their rent. Any rent incurred during the period between March 18th and June will still be owed to the landlord. That’s why the best action is communication. All tenants who have found themselves in a position where they can’t pay rent should notify their landlords and try to come to an amicable solution. 

tenant rights during the coronavirus

Protection for landlords during Covid-19

Robert Jenrick also noted that landlords can get payment holidays on their mortgage payments for three months. This is only applicable where tenants are experiencing difficulties due to the coronavirus.

The  Ministry for House, Communities and Local Government added, “At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.”

What does it mean for landlords?

While payment holidays on mortgages offer some relief, the disparity between rent and buy-to-let mortgages (the overwhelming majority are interest-only) monthly payment is stark. Tenants will be out of pocket from jobs lost, while landlords will suffer from lack of rent. 

Now is a time for empathy from all parties. Understanding and communication are more vital now than ever before in the landlord/tenant relationship. Each tenant situation will differ and should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. As a landlord, you should:

  • Remind tenants that rent is still due.
  • Guide them to the Department of Work & Pensions website. Here, they can get guidance regarding pay, statutory sick pay (SSP), and other relevant up to date information.
  • Ask tenants to put their concerns in writing so that you have a record of the conversation.
  • Speak to your lender to see which actions they are putting place.

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Navigating uncharted territories

These are difficult times, and many landlords and tenants find themselves in situations they haven’t previously experienced. Communication is key between both parties, as this can often bring about the best resolution. Should you have questions about anything, please get in touch with us directly.

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