From today, the Coronavirus Act extends the notice period required for possession using Section 8 and Form 6a (Section 21) from two months to three months. Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action comments.
“I have worked with landlords for 27 years, been through two recessions and seen the crippling effect that falling into rent arrears can have both on landlords and tenants.
"My number one piece of advice is ALWAYS communication and now, more than ever, I am urging landlords to work with their tenants. Pick up the phone, drop an email, send a text, reach out to see how they are affected by this crisis and similarly explain how it is affecting you.
"Given the scale of the crisis we find ourselves in, no tenant should be evicted as a result of being affected by Covid-19. There is concern that the Coronavirus Act, previously thought to completely ban evictions for the next three months, does not prevent landlords from serving a notice of intention to possess. It only extends the notice period that a landlord is required to serve on a tenant from two months to three months. However, I would point out that ongoing cases are already being adjourned, court buildings are closing, and evictions cancelled.
"This morning, the London Bailiff Centre contacted us [at Landlord Action] to say all evictions in March and April have been postponed and we have even had Section 21 possession claims sent back to us in the post. In reality, landlords may not be gaining possession of their property until the end of the year because of the new legislation change and delays to the court system, so I would advise landlords to work with their tenants as much as possible.
"However, I would also urge tenants to realise that the vast majority of landlords are small property owners with one or two properties. Their ability to prop tenants up will be limited too, especially if their own circumstances have changed. The new measures do not end a tenant’s liability for rental payments, just as a mortgage holiday for landlords does not exempt them from repaying the bank, it simply delays it. That is why it is in the best interests of all tenants and landlords to work together, understand each other’s limitations and establish a reasonable payment and review plan when the time is right.
"Where tenants have been forced to reduce their earnings, what capacity do landlords have to mirror this in their rent? Landlords who are struggling to keep up with mortgage payments should contact their lender as soon as possible to see if they can take a mortgage holiday. Ultimately, landlords want to retain good tenants and tenants want to remain in their homes, so my plea to you all is to take a long-term view and support each other.”