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Updated - 29th March 2020

New laws, regulations and guidance to help manage the impact of the coronavirus on landlords and tenants are being introduced at breakneck speed as the Government, advisory bodies, letting agents, contractors, landlords and tenants all grapple with the challenges introduced by the pandemic. As of today’s date, some key measures introduced are:

 

28 March 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government issued guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities. The advisory states that ‘tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability’. Local authorities have been given the power to provide support for tenants to stay in their homes and have stated that tenants facing financial hardship may be able to access new funding.

 

27 March 2020, the Government issued Civil Procedure Practice Direction 51Z which suspended all housing possession actions for an initial period of 90 days. This period can be extended where necessary. The actions suspended include those where a court order is necessary to seek possession under a tenancy agreement or mortgage. This includes any cases that are currently in the system. The practice direction also includes all enforcement action resulting from a possession order, meaning that all bailiff activity is included in the ban and is suspended as of 27 March 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

 

27 March 2020, the Government confirmed that Landlords remain legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard and that urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made. An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords. Local authorities are also encouraged to take a pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement. Aspire Residential has implemented this guidance into our essential repairs policy. Please see here for further details:

https://www.aspireresidential.co.uk/news/tenants/108-essential-repairs-policy

 

26 March 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 made it onto the statute books. The key provisions of the Act that impact landlords are those that extend the notice periods required to terminate a tenancy under Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Landlords are now required to provide three months’ notice before possession proceedings can be commenced under any of the grounds of S8 or S21. These changes start with immediate effect and are currently scheduled to remain in place under 30 September 2020, however that date may be extended under the Act.

 

26 March 2020, the Government issued guidance on moving during the Coronavirus outbreak. The advice states that ‘renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus’. For further information see here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

 

25 March 2020, based on advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Gas Safe Register issued guidance to members on protocols when visiting people's homes and the requirement to continue issuing gas safety certificates for rented property during the period of the Coronavirus outbreak. For further information see here:

https://www.aspireresidential.co.uk/news/landlords/114-gas-safety-inspections

https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/

 

23 March 2020, The Government released the following advice on working in people's homes which will apply to all contractors working at rented property:

"Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild".

For further information, see here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others#going-to-work

 

March 18 2020, the Government confirmed that landlords may apply for a three-month payment holiday on buy to let mortgages under emergency coronavirus legislation.

 

New laws, regulations and guidelines continue to be implemented frequently. Please continue to check our website for further updates or give us a call on 01903 259961 if you want to discuss how any of these changes impact you as a landlord.

 

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