The coronavirus pandemic prompted the Government to pass emergency legislation to protect tenants from being evicted due to missed rent payments in England and Wales. Introduced in March 2020, the ban aimed to protect tenants during the pandemic, where job losses and reduced wages were anticipated to affect rent payments.
Initially introduced for three months, the ban was set to end on June 23rd but has now been extended by two months to August 23rd – meaning court possession claims will not be heard until the end of September at the earliest. While this is welcome news to troubled tenants, some struggling landlords will undoubtedly be reviewing their options.
Guidance for landlords
While evictions cannot take place until the end of August, notices can still be served and the validity of current claims is not affected. Once notices (which now expire after three months) have expired landlords are able to issue Court claims, however they will not be listed for hearings but will sit in a ‘queue’ of cases to be heard once the stay comes to an end. However, more changes are expected to be made to assist the court in protecting tenants who have been directly affected by coronavirus.
While this legislation was introduced to protect tenants, landlords are also eligible to apply for ‘mortgage holidays’ to alleviate some of the financial pressure caused by the pandemic. The Government is strongly encouraging landlords and tenants to work together to find the best solution for each party. In fact, research by the National Residential Landlords Association has shown that 90% of landlords that have received a request for help from their tenants have responded positively – even though this means a financial hit for them.
The options for landlords trying to help struggling tenants include considering flexible payment plans, temporary rent reduction or rent-free periods. However, if you are a landlord making these decisions then seeking legal advice before taking such action is highly advised to ensure protection for you as a landlord. Additionally, there may be some instances where there is no other option but to go down the eviction route. In these cases, consulting a solicitor to review your position is highly recommended as soon as possible to help you navigate these uncertain times.
The litigation team at Linder Myers Solicitors has been supporting landlords for a number of years, with expertise in landlord and tenant matters. Get in touch today: firstname.lastname@example.org