Coronavirus and tenancy
The Government provides protection to social and private tenants by delaying when landlords can start proceedings to evict tenants. The provisions
of the Coronavirus Act 2020, that increased the required notice period length, were initially due to expire on 30 September 2020 but have now been extended through legislation to 31 March 2021.
This means that from 29 August 2020, with the exception of the most serious cases, landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants six months-notice. These serious cases include those in relation to anti-social behaviour including rioting, domestic abuse, fraud and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of over six months’ rent.
Rent and mortgage payments
-As a tenant, should I stop paying rent during the pandemic?
Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. The Government has a strong package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal, they should do. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity.
In many if not most cases, the COVID-19 outbreak will not affect tenants’ ability to pay rent. If your ability to pay will be affected, it’s important to have an early conversation with your landlord. Rent levels agreed in your tenancy agreement remain legally due and you should discuss with your landlord if you are in difficulty.
You can find details of support and advice available here: https://www.gov.uk/findcoronavirus-support.
What can I do about rent arrears?
Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity.
As part of national effort to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak it’s important that landlords offer support and understanding to tenants who may start to see their income fluctuate.
An early conversation between landlord and tenant can help both parties to agree a plan if tenants are struggling to pay their rent. This can include reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead accept a lower level of rent, or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date. Where a landlord does choose to serve notice seeking possession for rent arrears or has done so already, the
notice period and any further action may be affected by legislation lengthening the notice period.
Where appropriate, if disputes over rent or other matters persist, landlords and tenants are encouraged to consider mediation. Mediation allows an independent third-party to assist those involved to try to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute, without the matter needing to go to court.
If a landlord and tenant agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date, it is important they both stick to this plan, and that tenants talk to their landlord immediately if they are unable to do so.
If a tenant is worried about being unable to pay their rent, or if landlords become aware of tenants who may be in difficulty, advice is available from specialist providers such as Shelter, Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Service, if they are eligible for Legal Aid, they can also contact Civil Legal Advice for free and confidential advice.
Local authorities can provide support for tenants to stay in their homes. If tenants are experiencing financial hardship, they may be able to access new funding; we have made £500m available to fund households experiencing financial hardship and are determined to take action to support people in need.
Further information on Government support for employers and employees can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businessesduring-coronavirus-covid-19.
If tenants are worried about being evicted and not having anywhere else to go, they should speak to their local authority. They can find information on how to contact their local council at: www.gov.uk/find-local-council.
If tenants fall into financial difficulties due to a change in their employment or earnings, for example, they may qualify for Universal Credit.
Property Guardian licence agreements are a valid tenancy arrangement for receiving housing costs support in Universal Credit. Students are also able to claim Universal Credit under certain circumstances. Find more information about Universal Credit at https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-universal-credit.
The Governement have extended the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which means that from 29 August 2020, landlords will now be required to provide their tenants with six months’ notice apart from in the most serious cases. These serious cases include those in
relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, fraud and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of over six months’ rent. This will be in force from 29 August 2020 until at least 31 March 2021. If you are a landlord and require further information on the changes to notice periods.
Regardless of this legislation, where tenants have difficulty paying rent over this period, we ask that landlords do not issue a notice seeking possession, particularly given that the tenant may be sick or facing other hardship due to COVID-19.