Yesterday, the government announced a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.
The urgent measures include:
– Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.
– No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis.
– Landlords will also be protected as a 3-month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages.
Possession actions going forward
At the end of this period (being at least three months), landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable rent repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.
A new pre-action protocol for possession claims will also be introduced to apply after the three-month period (or whenever) which will apply to private as well as social tenancies to strengthen its remit and to ‘support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in’.
It is not yet clear what will happen to existing possession claims and whether the emergency legislation will extend to any possession claim, including against licensees, or limited to Rent Act/Housing Act 1985/ Housing Act 1988 only. At this stage, we strongly recommend this legislation is followed by landlords and licensors alike, including property guardianship companies. We appreciate however, many property guardian companies will not benefit from Buy to Let mortgage relief, given the standard structure of the business model.
It is also unclear whether the new protocol will only apply to rent arrears claims, or whether it would extend further. But where will this leave landlords/licensors with tenants/licensees demonstrating anti-social behavior, for example.
We will update you further when full guidance is published. In the meantime, if you wish to discuss any concerns or issues arising from this article, please do get in touch.
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