During the coronavirus pandemic, housing has become something of an issue. Not for everyone, of course. Those who own properties and live in those properties may well have asked for a mortgage holiday, but otherwise things will have continued in pretty much the same way as it always has.
For landlords and tenants, however, COVID-19 has potentially meant something else entirely. Normally, if a tenant cannot or will not pay their rent, the landlord has the means to serve them a section 21 notice of eviction and start proceedings to remove the non-paying tenant from the property.
This all changed during the pandemic. Since work became scarce for some people, rent also became more and more difficult to deal with. However, evictions were put on hold for six months. This was to allow those who were in difficulty to hopefully get back on their feet or to find somewhere cheaper to live. It clearly helped the tenant. But what about the landlord? It would depend. If the landlord relied on the money that came in through rent to pay the mortgage on the rental property, they might have been able to apply for the mortgage holiday as mentioned above. This seems fair.
However, if the money was their income and they suddenly lost it, there wasn’t much recourse.
So it must have been with some relief that the ban came to an end.
Only now, with the pandemic far from over and the government’s furlough scheme winding down, clearly there is going to be more trouble ahead.
The Eviction Truce
The government have stated that there will be an eviction truce between 11th December 2020 and 11th January 2021. Essentially, no one will be made to move out between Christmas and new year.
Other housing announcements have stated that:
From 28 August 2020:
- Landlords who already had possession claims in the system – and who would have given a three months’ notice of these – must:
- Serve a ‘reactivation notice’, informing both their tenant and the court that they wish to resume the action.
- Provide relevant information about the tenant’s circumstances before the repossession is brought to court including any relevant information about the tenant’s situation with regard to COVID-19, including how their health and finances have been affected.
- Landlords who wish to bring a new possessions claim must:
- Give their tenants at least 6 months’ notice before they seek to gain possession of their rental property through the courts. This includes section 21 evictions and rent arrears under 6 months. Only in exceptional circumstances i.e. such as cases involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse, is this notice period to be decreased as detailed on the government website.
All measures are to be in place until at least the end of March 2021.
If you need to find out more about how this might impact you as a landlord, or tenant, there is more information on the government’s website here. For more advice, contact Looksy.