As part of their ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has now brought the Coronavirus Act 2020 into force. This Act implements a number of temporary changes to the way the private rented sector operates.
The package of reforms to help renters announced are -
- extending notice periods for repossession for the duration of the emergency.
- suspending all ongoing possession cases for 90 days from March 27th 2020.
- widening the pre-action protocol for social landlords to include private rented sector landlords. This has not yet come into force.
- ensuring that buy-to-let lenders will offer a mortgage holiday of up to three months for private landlords whose tenants have been impacted by the coronavirus. This is on the understanding that landlords will be expected to offer a similar rent holiday to their tenants.
As of 23rd March 2020, the Government is now requiring everyone stay indoors in almost all circumstances, as well as restricting assemblies of more than two people at a time.
What is our position on these proposals?
The NLA and RLA recognise that these are unprecedented circumstances, and it is vital that tenants remain secure in their homes if they are adversely affected by coronavirus and the restrictions advised by the Government.
However, we believe a blanket suspension of all claims is too wide reaching. Suspending all possession claims provides no protection to neighbours where some tenants engage in anti-social or criminal behaviour for example.
We welcome the Government’s work to gain support for a mortgage holiday from buy to let lenders, but they must go further to protect tenants’ incomes and reduce the impact on individual landlords. Ultimately, the best way of avoiding future financial problems for tenants is by ensuring that their income is uninterrupted as much as possible.
What are we doing for landlords in this area?
The NLA and RLA have jointly taken action for our members including -
- approaching government representatives and others involved in the industry asking for support for tenants and landlords affected by the outbreak.
- calling for Government to temporarily scrap the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit, to assist with gaps in income.
- asking the Government to suspend the implementation of the final phase of restrictions on Mortgage Interest Relief, due to come into force in April.
- successfully lobbying mortgage lenders and the UK government for financial assistance in the form of mortgage holidays for landlords.
Advice for landlords
The Government advice around coronavirus is continuing to develop and extend into more areas of the private rented sector. We have produced a number of separate, regularly updated guides to assist you with understanding your requirements at this time.
In addition any members who are affected can contact the RLA for advice on 03330 142 998.
What can you do?
Landlords are encouraged to refer to the official information, official Government guidance and NHS guidance if they have any queries. As Government guidance changes, we will keep all of our pages updated.
Many landlords are also currently contacting their tenants to offer assistance.