The guidance and advice from the government for landlords and tenants has been evolving over the last couple of weeks, the current guidelines are as follows
Q – Landlord – What can I do about mortgage repayments?
• 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.
Q – Landlords – As a landlord, should I stop charging rent during the outbreak?
• Landlords are not required to do this. Most tenants will be able to pay rent as normal and should continue to do so, as they will remain liable for the rent during this period.
• There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach, as each tenant’s circumstance is different and some will be worse affected in terms of their ability to pay than others. It is important for landlords to be flexible and have a frank and open conversation with their tenants or Agent at the earliest opportunity, to allow both parties to agree a sensible way forward.
Q – Landlord and Tenants – What is the Eviction Notice Period during Covid-19?
Protections for tenants under the Coronavirus Act 2020, came in force from 26 March 2020.
• The Coronavirus Act 2020 protects most tenants in the private and social rented sectors by putting measures in place that say where landlords do need to issue notices seeking possession, the notice period must be for three months. Landlords can choose to give a longer notice period. From 27th March, any claims in the system or about to go into the system will be affected by a 90 day suspension of possession hearings and orders.
Q – Landlords -Do I still need to keep the gas safety Inspections up to date
Yes – Landlords must provide tenants with all necessary gas and electrical safety and any other relevant certification at the beginning of a tenancy (and carry out all scheduled inspections and tests where required).
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 you or your agent document your attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants
Q – Tenants and Landlord– Can Contractors still visit the property during Covid-19?
Yes for emergencies but you must follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when you or contractors or others are visiting the property, as outlined in public health guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults
• You can take additional measures such as ensuring contractors and tenants remain in separate rooms during any visits and following Government advice on hygiene and cleanliness before, during and after visits.
All non emergencies should be reviewed when advised it is safe to visit properties again.
Q –Tenants and Landlords – Someone in my House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) has the virus, What should I do?
• If you are living in accommodation which you share with other people, or share facilities with other people, you should follow current Public Health England guidance.
• You can find Government guidance on cleaning your home to minimise the risk of infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings
And on what to do if you are in a shared home with someone who may have the virus here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
• Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus.
Q – Landlords- I need to find a new tenant can viewings go ahead at the moment?
Government has advised against home moves wherever possible. See separate advice here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
All our viewings at Bacons will commence once we have been advised it is safe to do so.
Q- Landlords – what advice has Beacons given to tenants during COVID-19?
According to the government tenants should 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. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to Beacons at
the earliest opportunity.
It is important to note that where tenants do not pay their rent they will, as under normal circumstance, accrue arrears and will put themselves into debt which could impact their credit file and make it difficult to pass credit checks in the future.
• Where a landlord does choose to serve notice seeking possession for rent arrears or has done so already, the notice period and any further action will be affected by legislation lengthening the notice period and/or the suspension of possession claims.
• If a tenant is worried about being unable to pay their rent, or if landlords become aware of tenants who may be in difficulty, advice is available from specialist providers such Shelter, Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Service.
• If you fall into financial difficulties due to a change in your employment or earnings, for example, you may qualify for Universal Credit. Property Guardian licence agreements are a valid tenancy arrangement for receiving housing costs support in Universal Credit. Find more information about Universal Credit at http:// https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-universal-credit