With the arrival of the Coronavirus making a huge impact on everyone and affecting our economy, we have all had to make massive adjustments to our lives and our businesses. Individuals and businesses have unfortunately suffered financial loss and inconvenience.
Since Lockdown happened in March 2020 we have been in constant contact with landlords and tenants alike doing our best to reassure them that we are here to support and assist them in any way possible.
Here are a few helpful answers to some questions you may have:
This is obviously one of the first concerns a landlord may have as a lot of businesses have been affected here including job losses. We have asked all our tenants to update us immediately if their circumstances have changed or affected by Covid. Luckily only a small percentage have let us know that they are in financial difficulties. In these situations, we have checked to see if they have contacted the government to see if they are entitled to any financial help via the various schemes that are now in place. Inevitably some tenants may not be able to receive help and this brings the question of what happens next? With this being an exceptional situation, we would then discuss with you a possibility of a rent reduction or rent holiday. At present it is not possible to take court action to evict tenants during this crisis (see ‘Can I evict my tenants?’) it may be necessary to provide some scope to tenants which would provide you with some of the following benefits:
At present the vast majority of our tenants are continuing to pay their rent which is extremely positive. But sadly, for a very small percentage of tenants they are unable to do so due to losing their employment and are struggling to cope. We continue to update you if this is your tenant and we are aware that as landlords, and people, we are all sensitive to rent problems in this crisis we are all going through.
Under normal circumstances if a tenant did not continue to pay their rent for 2 months or had a bad payment record you could begin eviction proceedings. And if the tenancy has passed the minimum fixed term tenancy you could serve a Section 21 notice to end the tenancy in 2 months.
However with the Coronavirus arrival the government brought out an emergency legislation preventing any court action for eviction starting prior to 24th August 2020. The notice period also was changed to 6 months. If a tenant vacates at the end of this period no further action is required. However if they do not leave you may need to wait to take further action to evict them.
Covid has not affected the tenant’s rights to vacate here and therefore their notice period would remain.
Since house moves have been allowed from May tenants have given notice and vacated and we have continued to re let properties in a safe and secure way.
Mortgage holidays are available on buy to let mortgages for emergencies. This may be of some help if you are also suffering from financial difficulties but bear in mind from previous mortgage holidays this arrangement could also affect your credit rating.
Currently interest rates are low therefore this mortgage holiday would possibly not save you the equivalent of the loss of rent and it may be prudent to calculate what you would benefit from a mortgage holiday so you can make a decision as to whether you take it or not.
During the height of lockdown, we followed the governments advice and completed urgent maintenance where required i.e no hot water no heating no power etc. We were unable to carry out non urgent maintenance until lockdown was eased recently. We have been liaising with our contractors and tenants to ensure contact is minimal and all our contractors have obtained PPE equipment to ensure their own safety.
We have ceased carrying out our usual property visits to ensure the safety of our staff and tenants. Currently we are using a Self Service Inspection app which involves the tenants completing with comments and photos. So far this is working well but we will hope to return to physical property visits when we are confident we can carry these out safely for all concerned.