In light of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, the Government has announced that they will be putting on hold all eviction matters to prevent renters and landlords becoming victims of financial difficulty and stop tenants becoming homeless.
The Government advise that there will be a moratorium period of three months whereby no new possession proceedings can be commenced and the eviction process is suspended. Following the three month period landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to deal with any rent arrears by way of payment plans which take into account the tenant's circumstances.
When making the announcement on 18th
March, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said “The government is clear – no renter who has lost income to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord be left with unmanageable debts. These changes will protect both renters and landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need”.
There is new emergency legislation to be introduced in respect of the Government’s announcement, however no date has been confirmed.
We are seeking clarity regarding cases involving anti-social behaviour, as are representative bodies such as the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and National Landlords Association (NLA).
The Government has also advised that landlords with buy-to-let mortgages should be able to take a payment holiday for up to three months. The payment holidays will be offered on the understanding that the benefit is to be passed on to the tenant. This will alleviate the pressure on landlords, who may be concerned about meeting mortgage payments and will allow them to be as flexible as possible with tenants facing difficulties with their rent payments. The move follows extensive lobbying on the issue from both the NLA and RLA.
Private evictions, once restrictions have been lifted, are likely to be brought into line, for at least a period of time, with the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords. This will mean that landlords will be expected to engage more with their rent arrear tenants in order to resolve these issues by agreement, without the need to resort to Possession Proceedings.
As you will appreciate, the announcement at this stage is rather vague and we can assure you that we will be making further enquiries in order to be able to update you fully as the situation progresses. We hope to have more information to follow in the coming days.