Coronavirus - Help and Information for Landlords

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The Coronavirus - Information for Rental Landlords

The corona virus (Covid-19) has impacted so many lives, in so many ways but this article is directed at landlords who may have concerns in regards to rental payments and other aspects of being a landlord in this difficult time. What is the government doing to help Landlords? And what is being offered to tenants who may be facing financial difficulties? These are just two of the question’s landlords may have so within this article I answer these questions and more, as well as outlining additional factors for landlords in this current climate.

What to do if your tenant has said they cannot pay their rent?

Ask for Evidence

Tenants informing you that they are unable to pay rent due to financial difficulty are obliged to show evidence of this. This could be in one or more of the following formats:-

  • A letter from an employer showing reduced hours or redundancy 
  • A letter from accountant confirming a reduction in income
  • Comparable wage slips showing a decrease in income
  • Bank statements to evidence a decrease in income
  • Letter from a GP or NHS to prove they are ‘signed off’ due to Co-vid 19
  • Any evidence of claiming for Universal Credit or Housing Benefits

Defer your Buy to Let Mortgage Repayments

The government have introduced a three month ‘holiday deferment’ which allows you to have a break on paying your mortgage. This will however be added to your outstanding balance so is not a ‘free’ period of paying, just a postponement. Please note that your mortgage company may ask for evidence that your tenant is in financial difficulties.

Consider your tenants Security Deposit

Either yourself of your letting agent would have secured a security deposit at the beginning of the tenancy with the DPS or TDS. This will be either 6 or 5 weeks depending on when it was taken. You may consider agreeing with your tenant that this can be used as rent although this will not be accessed until the end of the tenancy and will of course leave little or no funds in case of damages or other claims against the deposit.

Keep Communications Open with your tenants

It is essential to communicate with your tenants and/or letting agents to ensure everyone is on the same page and tenants report any difficulties as early on as possible. This will allow persons involved to devise a plan and hopefully a solution that everyone can work with. 

Deferment of Payments

It may be that your tenant is in dire straits, cannot borrow money from loved ones, take out a loan, extend their overdraft and/or are waiting on help from the government which inevitably will be delayed due to such great demand. In this case, I would advise considering a rental deferment plan. This of course, will depend on when tenants are able to start paying their rent again but all debt should be recorded and once they are able to, tenants should begin to pay this back. Ideally this will be done within the time frame of their tenancy but how long we are on ‘lock down’ will affect how much rent has accrued and it therefore may be necessary for them to continue to pay their debt after the term of their tenancy.

What if my rental property is empty and I want to let it out?

Unfortunately, due to strict government guidelines lettings agents and landlords cannot let their property out during the current lock down. Viewings and valuations are on hold until further notice. You can advertise your property online but can only take enquiries until further notice. If you currently have a new move in progress then it can go ahead but this is only the case if the move in date has been booked, contracts are signed and monies have been paid.

Can I access my property?

The only reason you are currently able to access your rental property is for an emergency maintenance issue. All other maintenance can be reported and dealt with at a later date once current restrictions have been lifted. Scheduled property inspections are also not to be carried out at this time.

What about Gas Safety Inspections?

These are a legal requirement and must not expire. They must be done on an annual basis and currently they are still permitted and required to go ahead. Due to social distancing, tenants are asked to either vacate to a separate room, wait in the garden or leave the property whilst the inspection is being carried out. The only exception to this rule is if your tenant is showing symptoms of the corona virus, in which case, the visit can be delayed by 14 days whilst they self-isolate.

Can I evict my tenant?

The government have banned all evictions for three months so you cannot serve notice to your tenants for any reason during this time, including for non-payment of rent.

As we are in unprecedented times, we are likely to see new government guidance and legislation changing and evolving in the coming days, weeks and months. If you would like to be kept updated please sign up to:

Resourses for rental landlords:

Government website for landlords

Other resources on help/information for rental landlords and tenants:

Citizens Advice for landlords and tenants

Government website on support for landlords and tenants

Useful information for both landlords, and their tenants on general financial advice:

Moneysavingexpert.com

For more information or help/advice with your rental property please get in touch or

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