Earlier this week, we blogged about the Labour party’s call for protection for renters in arrears due to the Coronavirus. Last night the Government took action, announcing proposals to protect renters and landlords by suspending evictions and confirming three-month mortgage payment holidays for buy-to-let landlords. This is to ensure that tenants won’t be made homeless if they can’t pay their rent on time. Emergency legislation is expected today or tomorrow so that landlords can’t start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.
Tenants going into arrears – for any reason – puts a lot of financial pressure on landlords. So the government also confirmed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday announced earlier this week will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to Coronavirus. At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.
The ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings will be extended to include private renters and its remit will be strengthened to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes. Landlords will be expected to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in; and the Government will also issue guidance asking landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected to remain in their homes wherever possible.
These moves have been widely welcomed by industry bodies including the National Residential Landlords Association and ARLA PropertyMark, which said: “We are very conscious of the plight of tenants in these difficult times and appreciate any government action to help those affected by the current situation.”