Coronavirus Update for Residential Landlords

Mar 31, 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 obtained Royal Assent on 25 March and provides all manner of emergency provisions which came into force on 26 March and will remain effective until 30 September 2020. However that end date can be extended by the Secretary for State.

For Landlords concerned about recovering possession of residential property, we now have some more meat on the bones in respect of the press release issued previously. Remember that this only applies to England & Wales

From 26 March 2020 before a residential Landlord can start a Possession Claim in the Court, they first have to give a formal Notice to the tenant that they intend to apply for possession. That Notice has to be given three months before any Court process can begin.

This applies to most tenants in both private and social rented sectors and to all grounds of eviction – so not just for rent arrears.

The Court service also suspended as from 27 March all cases currently going through the housing possession process, so that none can progress to a stage were an eviction can take place. This suspension also covers mortgage possession cases and licences covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Tenants are still liable to pay their rent and the Government is encouraging landlord and tenants to agree rent payment schemes if tenants get into difficulty. If as a Landlord you rely on the rent to pay your Buy to Let mortgage; the Government has provided you with some additional help in that you are protected by a 3 month mortgage payment holiday. The payment does not get written off, merely suspended and interest will continue to accrue.

Landlords remain obliged to ensure properties meet required standards so urgent essential health and safety repairs must still be made. Urgent health and safety issues are those which affect the tenant’s ability to live safely and maintain mental and physical health in the property.  The guidance includes in the urgent category such things as a leaking roof; broken boiler, plumbing issues that mean there is no washing or toilet facilities; broken fridge or washing machine as well as security critical issues such as a broken window or external door.

Non urgent repairs can be done later provided that is agreed between the landlord and tenant and Local Authorities are being encouraged to take a pragmatic approach to enforcement.

For landlords of HMO’s (Houses in Multiple Occupation) you are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if someone in the property has contracted COVID 19. However, neither can you take steps to remove that person from your property

There is a useful guidance for Landlords & Tenants provided by the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government at the link below.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876500/Consolidated_Landlord_and_Tenant_Guidance_COVID_and_the_PRS_v4.2.pdf

Our Dispute Resolution Team will continue to provide updates and can be contacted on DRTeam@herrington-carmichael.com or 01276 686222.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frankie Tierney

Partner, Head of Disputes and Claims

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