Being a landlord is no easy task, especially during the current pandemic and the ongoing changes due to COVID-19. We understand that this is a concerning time for landlords as well as tenants, and that it may be difficult to keep up with the latest Governments advice and changes. From suspended evictions, to extended notice periods and three-month mortgage holidays, we have rounded up the latest guidance for landlords from the Government to help keep you up to date in the current landscape.
You will probably have heard that the government plan to suspend evictions during the current Covid-19 situation. We realise this will cause many landlords concern, with the potential loss of income considering that many will have a mortgage to pay. It was previously discussed that homeowners should get a three-month holiday
on mortgage payments if Covid-19 was causing hardship. This has now been confirmed to apply to buy to let landlords as well and any landlords on repayment mortgages may be able to switch to interest only. It is not yet clear if this will be enforced in legislation, like the possession suspension, but time will tell. If it is a voluntary code then the court would be likely to refuse possession during such a recommended suspension.
It is important to stress that the rent and mortgage rules “suspend” payment but do not remove the obligation to pay. In other words, the money will accrue as a debt.
Extended notice period and suspension of court proceedings
Due to the spread of the virus and the social distancing measures that have been put in place, the Government provided additional powers to deal with the outbreak. One being eviction measures, landlords will have to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession. This means that landlords can’t apply to start the court process until after this period. This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30th September 2020 and both the endpoint, and the three-month notice period can be extended if needed.
Court proceedings have also been suspended, neither current cases or new cases can progress to a stage where someone could be evicted. This applies to both England and Wales and has been instructed to initially last for 90 days but again can be extended if needed.
What landlords should do next…
We advise landlords to work closely with their tenants to discuss the different options that will help them during this period of cash flow difficulties. Options could be weekly payments, rent discount for a certain period, temporary rent-free period or an agreement on rent deferment and a payment plan. Top tip however, ensure all agreements are formally documented in writing to avoid any confusion at a later date.