Coronavirus: 9 step guide for landlords and letting agents

1. What must I do if my tenant can’t pay rent?

Tenants have been urged to pay rent and stick to the terms of their tenancy agreements to the best of their ability. Where tenants find themselves unable to pay rent due to a job cut they are encouraged to seek financial assistance from coronavirus related financial aid schemes. If the tenant still cannot afford to pay rent, the landlord and tenant may have to enter into an agreement.

2. Does landlord insurance cover coronavirus?

Some insurers are accepting claims, whilst a big majority is dodging liability, stating that coronavirus is not a covered peril. We advise that you hear from you broker directly or get a professional interpretation of your policy.

3. Can I still evict my tenants now?

You may give your tenants notice, but you can’t make them leave your property. Landlords must now give three months’ notice to tenants they want to evict. There is a possibility that this period may be extended. On the expiry of the three months, the landlord can make an application for the eviction of the tenant. It is illegal to harass or lockout tenants out of their homes.

4. What if I had given notice to my tenant before 25 March 2020?

Well, your notice may still be valid, but you won’t be able to get an eviction order from the court since all eviction matters have been suspended.

5. Does force majeure mean that I can now end the tenancy?

It is highly unlikely that most tenancy agreements have a force majeure clause. If you have the clause in your tenancy agreement you may have to review the wording and see to what extent it applies to the COVID-19 situation. While COVID-19 may be a force majeure event it has to be ascertained whether it has an effect on the tenant’s occupation of the premise which may trigger its application. Covid-19 does not cause material or physical damage to buildings.

6. Can I still make a demand for unpaid rentals, or have to wait for the three month period to pass?

You may continue to make demands for rental arrears. What has been suspended is repossession and applications for repossession. Tenants are still liable to pay their rentals and where they struggle, support is available. Tenants should continue to abide by the terms of their tenancy where possible

7. What can I do about my mortgage repayment?

If you facing coronavirus related hardships, mortgage lenders have agreed to offer a holiday break for payments for up to three months. Please note that the sum owing remains payable and can even continue accruing interest.

8. How does the Coronavirus Act 2020 interact with the courts’ housing possession claims?

Firstly, cases that have already been issued for possession claims have been postponed for 3 months (reviewable) from the 26th of the month. Secondly, a landlord that wants to give notice must now give 3 months’ notice (subject to review) upon expiry of the period, they may then proceed with an application for possession.

9. Am I still expected to carry out repairs?

The government has urged landlord to abide by the terms of their agreements, by all means, possible Coronavirus does not alter the obligations of landlords. The tenant still has the right to stay in clean and decent homes. Landlords must still make efforts to keep the terms of the lease

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