As the coronavirus crisis deepens, many people across the country face economic insecurity and this obviously leads concern regarding living arrangements. The government have acted to implement several measures including a hold on new eviction proceedings and a 3 month mortgage holiday for home owners.
It is still unclear how the situation will develop but for private landlords and tenants it is important to try and communicate if they are facing issues and look for solutions that work for both parties. Any actions taken should always follow advice from both the government and National Health England.
In the article below we’ve outlined a few common scenarios that are affecting our clients, this list is by no means exhaustive and if you are facing similar problems then you should speak to your legal advisor on the options that are available to you:
I’m going to struggle to pay rent/mortgage due to my loss of income, what can I do?
The social distancing measures put in place by most businesses have left people not being able to work, and as a consequence people are worried about how they can continue their normal lives without their source of income.
Tenants should talk to their landlord or letting agent and let them know they are experiencing financial difficulty. During this tough time, landlords should be understanding of the situation and open to discussing solutions, such as setting up a payment plan. Anything that is agreed should be added into the contract, to avoid any future disputes.
For landlords, the Government announced a three-month mortgage holiday for home owners who are struggling to make mortgage payments due to the crisis. Within this period, banks and building societies will not be able to repossess any properties. Home owners should speak to their lenders to discuss the options available to them.
Additionally, the Government has also announced a finance package to support businesses and their employees, as well as those who are self-employed. If you are unable to work or have been told not to work by your employer you may be eligible to still receive part of your salary. Speak to your employer to find out whether they are utilizing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The full details of the package can be found on the Government website.
If I/my tenant cannot pay rent to due loss of income, can I/they be evicted?
The Government has announced emergency legislation that puts a hold on all evictions initially for 90 days but potentially for the duration of the Coronavirus crisis. This means that if a tenant is unable to pay rent due to the current situation, landlords cannot begin eviction proceedings for at least three months. This may be extended if the Government deems it necessary.
It is illegal for landlords to evict a tenant without following the correct procedure; if these procedures are not followed correctly, the tenant may have the right to claim damages through the court.
Can landlords still make necessary repairs to their properties?
Landlords still have the responsibility of ensuring their properties are in livable conditions. That being said, repairs should be prioritized in order of urgency, smaller repairs may have to be put on hold. If urgent repairs are needed, tenants should let their landlords know if they are self-isolating due to being high risk so that preventative measures can be taken.
Legal requirements, such as gas safety checks still need to go ahead, but precautions should be taken to help minimize any risk of spreading the virus. The gas companies will have procedures in place for these situations.
I need to move out of my rental property to look after a vulnerable family member who is in self-isolation, can I end my tenancy?
A fixed term tenancy can only be ended early if there is a break clause in the contract, or a negotiation is made with the landlord.
While we are in this period of crisis, landlords may be more sympathetic and understanding if a tenant needs to move out to look after a vulnerable relative. However, there is no legal requirement for a landlord to agree to a tenancy end.
As has been made clear in the article, there are several schemes that the government has announced that should provide homeowners and renters with a degree of protection if they are facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. It should be noted that we are in an unprecedented situation and an expectation that all parties should be willing to communicate with each other and show a degree of pragmatism.
If you are unclear on your rights as a homeowner, renter, or landlord, then we advise you speak to your legal representative will provide advice tailored to your situation.
Kyle Wyness is an Associate in Spratt Endicott’s Dispute Resolution practice, specialising in property litigation. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a particular matter, you can contact Kyle Wyness on or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.