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25 March 2020

Coronavirus: Advice for landlords

The government is in the process of introducing legislation to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus on various sectors of society.

This article will help private sector landlords to understand how the change in legislation will affect them during the forthcoming months.

Ban on Evictions

New legislation states that all evictions will be banned for the next 3 months. A landlord with a possession order will not be able to arrange for an eviction with the County Court bailiffs/High Court Enforcement officers for a minimum of 3 months.

Ban on New Possession Claims

The Courts will not be issuing any new possession claims for at least 3 months. It’s unclear as to the official position of existing possession claims currently progressing in the Court. Most Courts have now postponed the majority of possession hearings until the beginning of June.

Change to the notice procedures

The Coronavirus Act 2020, made changes to serving notices under Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Now, a landlord serving notice under a Section 8 or Section 21 (even a Section 8 notice citing the ground of rent arrears), must give 3 months’ notice of the intention to seek possession. This is a temporary measure for any notice served prior to 30th September 2020, but could be extended.

No guidance for landlords who have served a notice on their tenants before the legislation commences has been issued. These notices should not be affected and landlords will not need to serve new notices. Landlords who have already served notices will be able to commence possession proceedings after the extant notice has expired and once the ban on commencing possession proceedings has ended.

New pre-action protocol for rent arrears claims

The government has taken the view that any tenant who has been unable to pay rent due to Covid-19 should not be evicted due to rent arrears accrued in this period. A new pre-action protocol for all private residential landlords will be introduced. This mirrors existing pre-action protocol for social housing providers.

If the landlord wishes to evict a tenant for rent arrears, they will need to demonstrate to the Court that they have attempted to agree a repayment plan with the tenant. If arrears can be attributed to Covid-19, the landlord will be prevented from obtaining possession if they refuse to accept a reasonable repayment proposal made by the tenant.

Mortgage Holiday

The government has confirmed that the 3 month mortgage holiday will also apply to” buy-to-let” landlords who cannot pay their mortgage due to non-payment of rent by their tenant.

Our advice to landlords is to apply to your lender for this holiday. Do not cancel your direct debit as it could affect your credit rating.

Landlord’s Insurance

If Landlords find themselves in financial difficulty due to unpaid rent, they should check the terms and conditions of their landlord insurance policy to see if cover is included for lost rent.

Conclusion

We have an experienced Property Litigation Team who work with some of the largest residential management companies in the country. We are confident we can help our private residential landlord clients navigate these uncertain times.

Please contact the team via email using disputes@steeleslaw.co.uk or by calling 01603 598000.

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