FAQ’s for Landlords & Tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic
22 June 2020 by Priya Patel
Over the past few weeks, many questions have arisen as to the rights of both Landlords and Tenants during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic. Below, we have put together a short Q&A on some of the most frequently asked questions.
Can a landlord still file a claim for possession during the pandemic?
With the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Government imposed a ban on the filing of any possession claims for both residential and commercial premises, for a period of 90 days. Practice Direction 51z has the effect of staying possession proceedings brought under CPR 55 together with any enforcement action by way of warrant or a writ which has now been extended to 23rd August 2020.
My tenant has asked for a rental holiday, do I have to provide this?
A rent reduction or rental holiday is subject to the discretion of the landlord but The Residential Landlords Association has opined that if tenants find themselves struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, landlords should give consideration to allowing rent to be paid on a deferred basis or subject to the terms of agreements reached.
My tenant has been made redundant and cannot afford to pay the rent, what do I need to do during the pandemic?
Any rent reduction is at the landlord’s discretion however, you are maybe entitled to a mortgage holiday with your bank if you agree to any tenants paying a reduced rent/rental holiday.
My tenant has informed me of some issues with the property that need to be fixed? Can I still do this?
Pursuant to Section 11 of The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it is the responsibility of the landlord to keep the property in a ‘good state of repair’. Landlords must carry out repairs within a reasonable period of time and how long this is will depend on how serious the problem is. With the current pandemic and the Government’s guidelines on social distancing, you can still visit a tenant’s property but this should only be done with their agreement and with the necessary PPE.
My tenant has vacated the property without informing me or giving me notice so I have lost my rental income from the property, what can be done about this?
Where this situation arises then the lease has been “abandoned” i.e they have surrendered their legal right to possession of the property voluntarily. Most tenancy agreements and leases stipulate that a tenant must provide notice to a landlord if they want to terminate the tenancy early. However, it is important to note that while they have left the property and stopped paying rent, they are still the legal occupier.
Although a tenant may have vacated the property and is no longer paying rent, they are still the legal occupant. This doesn’t mean that you can simply re-enter the property on a mere suspicion as this could potentially be a breach of their rights under the tenancy. The only way to re-enter the premises legally is either with proof that they have left or by way of a possession order. A landlord should check the property insurance policy to see if this protects them if the property has been abandoned.
If you have any issues relating to the matters raised above, please contact the Fisher Jones Greenwood’s quick response team on 01206 700113 (a free initial call to discuss individual matters is available) or alternatively, please email [email protected].
Alternatively, book an appointment for our free, virtual Landlord & Tenant advice clinic.