In March, emergency legislation was passed by the Government that prevents tenants from being evicted due to missed rent payments during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Initially introduced in England and Wales for three months and set to end on June 23rd, this ban has now been extended by two months to August 23rd. This means court possession claims will not be heard until late September at the very earliest.
With job losses and reduced wages expected to affect rent payments, this is welcomed by concerned tenants but troubled landlords will undoubtedly be reviewing their options.
Advice for landlords
It should be noted that notices can still be served where necessary and the validity of current claims is not affected -although evictions will not happen until after the ban ends. Once notices have expired (which won’t be for three months) landlords are able to issue Court claims. These will then sit in a queue of cases to be heard once the stay ends, and a large backlog is anticipated. Additionally, more changes are expected to be made to help the court in protecting tenants who have been directly affected by Coronavirus.
The Government strongly recommends landlords and tenants to work together during these difficult times. Research by the National Residential Landlords Association has shown that almost half of landlords have received a request for help from their tenants, and 90% of them found a positive solution. ‘Mortgage holidays’ have also been made available to support landlords who are taking a financial hit from the pandemic.
If you are a landlord whose tenants are struggling, you may consider flexible payment plans, temporary rent reduction or rent-free periods. It is advisable to seek legal advice before finalising such arrangements or making changes to any tenancy agreements to protect yourself should any issues arise. In instances where pursuing eviction is the only option, consulting a solicitor to review your position is highly recommended as soon as possible to help you navigate these uncertain times.
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