Covid-19 has taken everyone by surprise and has created huge uncertainty in our country and throughout the world. We are aware of the difficulties many people are facing, including some of our tenants and we are here to provide help and assistance needed where we can. Due to the nature of the enquiries we are receiving, we have created a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section to provides some of the regularly asked questions about the Covid-19 situation with regardst to the Private Rental Sector and we hope you will find the answer here. If you cannot find the answer to your question here or if this section does not help you, please call us or drop us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Covid-19 and the Private Rental Sector
The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home. Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. If they face financial hardship and struggle to pay this, support is available, in the first instance they should speak directly with us if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment, and we may be able to agree a rent payment scheme.
The Goverment have made £500 million available to fund households experiencing financial hardship.
As part of the workers’ support package, the Government announced they will pay up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per month, where workers are placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Both Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will increase and from April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
Paying rent during the outbreak?
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 must provide us with evidence as to the reason why they cannot pay their rent. In many if not most cases, the COVID-19 outbreak will not affect tenants’ ability to pay rent, due in large part to the Goverments income support system. If your ability to pay will be affected, it’s important to have an early conversation with us as to the reasons why.
An employee furlough is a mandatory suspension from work without pay. It can be as brief or as long as the employer wants. Furloughs can take place in both public and private institutions. An organization will furlough employees as a cost-saving measure when it doesn’t want to lay off staff but lacks the resources to continue paying them. The Goverment have agreed to pay 80% of employees salary for those who have been Furloghed.
Universal Credit, help and assistance
If you fall into financial difficulties due to a change in your employment or earnings, for example, you may qualify for Universal Credit or Local Authorities can provide support for tenants to stay in their homes. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to access new funding. The Goverment have already made £500m available to fund households experiencing financial hardship and it is there to support people in need.
Deferred Payments and what we need
If there is absolutley nothing you can do to make your rent payments, we are obliged to assist you by deferring your rent payments. To do this, we need a written request for this to be considered based on the information and evidence you provide to us which clearly shows you are having financial difficulties. We may ask for evidence that you have no means of income or as to why you are having difficulty paying some or all of your rent.
Tenants should know that they will ultimately remain liable for payment of the rent in full once the initial three-month period has ended. At the end of the emergency legislation period, if a renter is in arrears of rent, the Government has stated that landlords and renters will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account renters’ individual circumstances and the situation with respect to the how the landlords busienss has been affected.
Where the tenant is experiencing financial difficulties and where the Utilities are the responsibility of the tenant and not included in the rent, it is the responsibility of the tenant to speak directly with the Utility Company to arrange a mutal acceptable finance plan.
Landlords Mortgage Holiday
With our business model, the properties we rent to our tenants hae mortgages on them and as Landlords we cannot simply stop paying our mortgage payments without very good reason. There is a belief amongst some people that the meaning of a Mortgage Holiday is that we do not need to pay our mortgage(s), but the truth is, we do! A mortgage holiday is only a deferrment of the payment, it is not free money!. For us to be given a mortage holiday payment, we must provide our banks with hard evidence that our tenants are unable to pay their rent, we cannot simply say that tenants can’t pay without providing evidence that they can’t and the reasons why. We cannot simply stop paying our obligations if we are able to make payments and we expect the same of from our tenants.
Where we have
Repairs during Covid-19
During these difficult times, we must comply with Goverment guidelines with regards to Social Distancing and our work related movements. Therfore, during this period, we will not be attending any property for the purpose of dealing with Minor Repairs and we would ask Tenants, wherever possible, to deal with minor repairs themseleves. However, where there is a genuine emergency which would affect the safety of tenants or the safety of the property, we will attend. Examples of an emergency would be such things as a gas leak, or a serious leak, or a structural issue. Please remember, a situation is not an emergency unless it immediately affects your safety or neighbours or the saftey of the property.
Repairs - A Tenants Responsibilities
As a tenant, you also have some responsibilities to keep your home in a good state of repair.
- looking after your home by using it in a ‘tenant like’ way,
- telling your landlord about the repairs that are needed,
- providing access to have any repair work done, and
- having a duty of care to your visitors.
The law implies a condition into every tenancy agreement that the tenant must use their home in a ‘tenant-like’ way. Using your home in a tenant-like way generally means:
- doing minor repairs yourself, such as changing fuses and light bulbs, lose or broken cupboard handles (in other words, common sense things).
- keeping your home reasonably clean
- not causing any damage to the property and making sure your visitors don’t cause any damage
- using any fixtures and fittings properly, for example, not blocking a toilet or drains by flushing something unsuitable down it.
- keeping gutters, drainpipes and outside drains clear of debris and blockages.
The tenancy agreement will also set out some express terms on what your responsibilities are for repairs, for example, that you are responsible for decorating the property, carpet cleaning etc.
Ending A Tenancy
At an uncertain time like this, it may be that some tenants simply wish to give up their tenancy and return to live with family and friends and we understand why this could be an option. For those tenants wishing to be released from their tenancy, please read the following;
Vacating at End of Fixed Term Agreement
For tenants who are leaving the property at the end of the tenancy agreement, one month notice in writing is required. Tenants are required to submit the their notice in writing and must be signed by all tenants agreeing to the conditions below:
- Tenants are liable for rent up to and including the end date of the tenancy
- A property inspection fee of £50.00
- All Marketing and advertising expenses incurred
Contrary to what some may think, landlords do not want to evict tenants unless there is a serious reason to do so. Evicting a tenant is expensive, time consuming and can be disstruptive to business. We only ever enter the eviction process and commence legal proceedings to gain possession of our property for serious beaches of the tenancy agreement and we do not do this lightly.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 protects most tenants and secure licensees in the private and social rented sectors by putting measures in place that say where landlords do need to issue notices seeking possession, the notice period must be for three months or longer. From 27th March 2020, any claims in the system or about to go into the system will be affected by a 90 day suspension of possession hearings and order. At the expiry of the three-month notice, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave their home without a court order.
Our contact details are displayed on the Contac Us Page. We operate normal office hours and whilst we have an emergency number, this is for emergencies only and we do not respond to queries of a none emergency nature after normal office hours.