The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide guidance to landlords and tenants to help understand the implications of the Coronavirus Act 2020
Should tenants stop paying rent during the outbreak?
- Landlords are not required to stop charging rent during the outbreak. Most tenants will be able to pay rent as normal and should continue to do so, as they will remain liable for the rent during this period
- Tenants should continue to pay rent and adhere to all other terms of their tenancy agreement
- Tenant’s whose ability to pay rent may be affected by the current situation should have an early conversation with their landlord. It is important for landlords to be flexible and have a frank and open conversation with their tenants at the earliest opportunity, to allow both parties to agree a realistic way forward
- The government is working to widen the existing ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings to include private renters. This will ensure that private sector landlords liaise with tenants to understand the financial position they are in before taking possession action through the courts once the changes to possessions proceeding has ended.
- If a tenant is worried about being unable to pay their rent, or if landlords become aware of tenants who may be in difficulty, West Lindsey Home Choices team should be contacted in the first instance on 01427 676676 or email@example.com. Advice is also available from specialist providers such Shelter, Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Service.
What are the changes to possession proceedings?
- As of 26 March 2020 if a landlord wishes to issue notices seeking possession (whether using section 21 or section 8), they must give at least three months’ notice before they can apply to the court for possession. Any notices issued before 27 March 2020 will not be actioned through the courts until 90 days from 27 March 2020
- Landlords of those on licences to occupy are urged to follow the same guidance and to work with renters who may be facing hardship as a result of the response to COVID-19
- If you have lost your job which came with accommodation and they have told you to move out, again, contact West Lindsey Home Choices team on 01427 676676 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Please have ready details of the accommodation, including any contracts signed
- At the expiry of the three-month notice, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave their home without a court order as per the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. If this situation arises, tenants are urged to contact the Housing Enforcement team on 01427 676676 or email@example.com
What if there are issues with mortgage repayments?
- Mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays of up to three months where this is needed due to Coronavirus-related hardship, including for buy-to-let mortgages and shared ownership mortgages. Contact your mortgage provider for more information
How does the COVID-19 outbreak affect disrepair in rental properties?
- Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed
- Where reasonable, safe, and in line with other Government guidance, we recommend that tenants allow local authorities, landlords or contractors access to your property in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues.
- Urgent health and safety issues include (but are not limited to):
- Problems with the fabric of the building e.g. the roof is leaking
- Broken boiler e.g. leaving a property without heating or hot water
- Plumbing issue e.g. no washing or toilet facilities
- Security-critical problems e.g. broken windows or external doors
- Landlords should make every effort to abide by existing gas and electrical safety regulations. There are provisions in both regulations to account for situations in which a landlord cannot do this, and they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. For further information see the COVID-19 Advice and Guidance on the Gas Safe Register website
- Further guidance on visits to properties to make repairs
Follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when contractors or others are visiting your property, as outlined in public health guidance: see GOV.UK Coronavirus.
What does COVID-19 mean for tenants in Houses of Multiple Occupation?
- Nobody can be removed from their home because of the virus
- Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus.
- If you are living in accommodation which you share with other people, or share facilities with other people, you should follow current Public Health England guidance. If you are having to leave accommodation, you should seek alternative accommodation, or get in touch with West Lindsey Home Choices team on 01427 676676 or firstname.lastname@example.org