Tenants Updates

Date Published 20 March 2020

Government support available for landlords & renters reflecting the current coronavirus outbreak

The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by Coronavirus from 27th March. With these in force, no Tenant in private rented accommodation will be forced out of their home.

To ensure all renters are clear on the full package of support that is currently available to them, we are bringing this together into one place.

From today (27th March 2020) Landlords will have to give all renters 3 months' notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy) – this means the landlord can't apply to start the court process until after this period. This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30 September 2020 and both the end point, and the three month notice period can be extended if needed. This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of evictions. This includes possession of tenancies in the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988. After three months if the tenant has not moved a Landlord needs to apply to court in order to proceed.

Also from 27th March 2020 following a decision by the Master of the Rolls with the Lord Chancellors agreement the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in the or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. This suspension of housing possessions action will initially last for 90 days, but this can be extended if needed. This measure will protect all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This will apply to both England and Wales.

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 from the Government. They should also advise the Landlord if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment and in this unique context we would encourage tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme.

The Government have already made £500 million available to fund households experiencing financial hardship. As part of the workers' support package, the Chancellor announced the government 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.

The government is also committed to supporting Landlords, and maintaining the positive partnership between Tenants and their Landlords. That is why, in addition to the measures outlined above, we have also agreed with lenders that they will ensure support is available where it is needed for Landlords. Landlords will also be protected by a 3 month mortgage payment holiday where they have a Buy to Let mortgages.

Landlords remain legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard – urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made. An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords. Local authorities are also encouraged to take a pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement.

Following the announcement from the PM yesterday evening the offices of Able Estates will be closed from Tuesday 24th March. We will however, spend the day getting the phones diverted & connecting up remotely. Please bear with us and we will do our best in the coming days to keep all customers up to date.

As the Coronavirus is escalating we have decided to make changes for the safety of yourselves, our staff and contractors.

Periodic visits have been stopped for now, but we are making a phone call to each tenant where the visit is due, asking them to confirm if they have any issues and to send in photos. We are then updating Landlord in the usual way.

Only emergency maintenance will be carried out at this time.

We have been inundated with calls today. Everything we know is detailed in this thread. If you have any queries as to what support could be available to you please check with the Government website. If you think you will not be able to pay the full rent please make contact by email so that we can update your Landlord.

Able Estates are open for business, however we have had to reduce face to face contact and the office is being sanitised on a daily basis to protect the staff. We however, at this time ask that you please email the office if you have any queries or keep checking here.

As you can imagine we are receiving a high number of calls with queries. At present we don't have all the answers, so we will update here as we get further news. We hope that all our customers stay well during this unprecedented situation.

1) Ban on Evictions
New legal action & evictions against Tenants have been banned for the next 3 months.

2) Existing Legal Action
We believe that existing legal action can continue but that the speed of the process if likely to slow down even further.

4) Rent Arrears
At this time, if you are affected by the Coronavirus situation and believe that you may experience issues with paying your rent, you need to let the office know as quickly as possible so that we can advise your Landlord, who then can contact their mortgage company and request a payment holiday. You will need to provide proof of the reasons as to why you are not able to pay the rent and you must continue to pay what you can. Once this situation is over the rent will remain payable and Landlords and Tenants will need to establish a suitable payment plan to clear any arrears.

5) Maintenance
At present our contractors are only attending emergencies - please email any details of maintenance works required but you should be patient as non emergency work will not be carried out until this situation is over.

6) Universal Credit
We are waiting for news from the Government as to if people can claim Universal Credit straight away with payments coming straight to the Agent.

7) We are waiting for confirmation from the Government as to if the following still need to be carried out as they require face to face contact either by staff or contractors

a) Right to Rent Checks
b) Anti-Money Laundering checks
c) Electrical & Gas Safety Checks
d) Landlords Legal Obligations