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Residential Landlords Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Eviction Ban

Posted by:

Helen Lyne

Image of Residential Landlords Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Eviction Ban
by

Helen Lyne,

Associate Solicitor

Litigation

Residential Landlords Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Eviction Ban

The COVID-19 Global Pandemic has created a new era of challenge and uncertainty across all sectors worldwide. Whilst the UK is in the early stages of the crisis, the effect on business and commerce is sharp becoming a reality this week. The greatest worry we face at the moment is that we are only in the very early stages of these challenging times, with more changes and uncertainty still to come.

 

The Government is faced with the unenviable task of introducing whatever measures possible to try and hold the economy together. Political views aside, we are being drip fed a package of new legislative measures which are ultimately aimed at protecting us all where possible.

 

Yesterday saw, amongst other things, the Government’s announcement that it is introducing emergency legislation to stop any new possession claims (social and private tenancies) being issued at court for at least the next three months. Balanced against this, the three month mortgage payment holiday already announced for homeowners will be extended to buy to let mortgages.

 

In addition to this, a new pre-action protocol for possession claims is to be introduced, to apply after the three months (or longer if extended) which will apply to private as well as social tenancies to strengthen its remit and to “support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.”

 

At the end of the three months (or if longer) landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish repayment plans, taking into account tenant’s individual circumstances. How practical this will be remains to be seen, particularly as we just don’t know what the future holds.

 

Concern has already been raised as to whether this will result in more unlawful evictions, put additional pressures on already understaffed courts and only ultimately exacerbate the situation. Playing devil’s advocate, however, it is difficult to endorse any level of criticism when we just don’t know at the moment how bad a situation this is ultimately going to be for everyone who, in reality is in the same boat, admittedly in varying degrees. 

 

In a joint statement, the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association said:

'Our priority is to ensure that tenants are secure in their homes during this crisis.
'The three month buy to let mortgage payment holiday will take a lot of pressure off landlords enabling them to be as flexible as possible with tenants facing difficulties with their rent payments.
'No responsible landlord will be considering evicting tenants because of difficulties arising from the current situation.'

There are still question marks as to exactly what this new legislation will cover; whether it will effect existing possession claims, whether it will extend to licensees, Will this extend to any possession claim, including against licensees and section 21 claims. We will be looking at the legislation in detail when it is published and will provide further updates when possible.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, contact our Ligitation team and they will endevour to answer any questions as much as possible.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general information only and made available for educational purposes only.  It is for a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice.  This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a regulated professional.  You should seek appropriate legal advice for your own situation.