The landlord’s guide to living with lockdown
Everyone across the county is facing a completely changed economic landscape due to the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown. Landlords can certainly count themselves amongst this number as if you are a landlord with tenants, just as with everyone else, you must deal with uncertain conditions across the market.
Things aren’t easy, so here we have provided a simple guide for landlords. What is expected of during lockdown? What has changed? And what are you still required to do? We provide the answers to these questions and more.
Should landlords stop taking rent?
It has been set out by the government that landlords are not expected at any time to stop taking rent from tenants. Whilst many tenants are facing pressures and may be looking for support, the government has set out a range of measures to try to ensure that as many people as possible are able to pay their rent as normal, in spite of any Covid-19 related difficulties.
The Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme are designed to offer financial support to those employed or self-employed people, and this money should be used to cover normal expenses, including rent. As such they should not be any need for landlords to stop taking rent from tenants.
Cleaning and decontaminating properties
Landlords are expected to continue with their duty to keep a property in which tenants are living in good condition. Therefore if you are a landlord who has a duty to clean and maintain communal areas within a property, these duties remain in place in spite of the challenges regarding lockdown.
Additionally, landlords should look to implement measures, where possible to minimise the spread of Covid-19 in their properties. If you are responsible for a building with multiple properties and tenants, and one of those tenants becomes infected with Covid-19, you should arrange for thorough deep-cleaning and decontamination services to deal with the communal areas. Decontamination is considered to be a crucial part of stopping the spread of the virus.
If you are struggling with your mortgage repayments for any reason during the Covid-19 crisis then you are eligible to take a ‘payment holiday’ from your lender. During this payment holiday, you will not be expected to make your usual mortgage repayments. However, it is important to note that the interested that would be have been accrued due to these payments will be passed onto your overall mortgage cost and will need to eventually be paid further down the line.
This is something that could be beneficial to many landlords, however, you should seek financial advice regarding your situation first, as it may be the case that an alternative option is actually better suited to you.
Repairs and maintenance
With regard to the general repairs and maintenance of a property by a landlord, the Covid-19 crisis is not considered to affect your duties as a landlord. Your obligations to provide tenants with a decent, warm and safe place to live remain the same. Therefore you should deal with any urgent repairs as you would normally.
You should also stick to agreed maintenance procedures wherever possible, and continue to keep the building in good condition, whilst maintaining safe practice. In many cases, this is completely achievable.
As of 27 March 2020, all possession court action including enforcement through bailiffs is suspended for 90 days. The government has specifically requested that no new possession notices are to be served.
This is in accordance with the fact that the government has asked everyone across the country from moving home wherever possible. Where it is possible, landlords should look for alternative options and push back plans.
Be flexible and open-minded
It is important during these unprecedented times to be flexible and open-minded with your tenants. Everyone is facing challenges as the Covid-19 crisis has affected people in a huge variety of different ways.
The government advises that in a situation where a tenant is struggling to pay rent or is worried about other terms of their tenancy, a frank and open discussion should be had between the two parties in order to come to an agreement that benefits everyone. Landlords must take this time to be as reasonable as possible and do what they can to help tenants - and tenants must equally be willing to work with landlords to come to a reasonable solution to any problems that arise