Important COVID-19 update 23rd April 2020

To help support you and your business, we have put together a list of facts summarising the changes that are currently impacting the Private Rental Sector due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 is an ever-changing landscape and subject to swift changes. The content in this bulletin details how the facts stand currently (23rd April 2020). At LegalforLandlords we are constantly adapting and communicating changes to help all clients, and as always, will keep you updated when any further information is received.

Legal Changes

  • The change in law only applies to notices served on or after 26 March 2020.
  • Courts have now suspended all ongoing housing possession claims.
  • Any cases that were due to be heard have been vacated and new hearings will be listed in the coming months.
  • When using either Section 8 or Section 21 notices, landlords must give at least 3 months’ notice. This applies to all grounds for a Section 8.
  • New Section 8 notice to include the Coronavirus Act 2020.
  • New Section 21 notice to include Coronavirus Act 2020.
  • Courts will investigate if the landlord has tried to negotiate payment plans for Section 8 notices.
  • Landlords still need to follow the guidelines in place for Gas Safety checks. Where possible the landlord should continue to contact the tenant to arrange inspections.
  • Landlords and agents need to work closely with all tenants, especially those that are affected financially. Any and all terms agreed need to put be in writing.

Insurance Changes

  • Rent & Legals Protection Insurance for new lets is currently on hold until further notice, we’re working closely with the underwriters to get the right solution in place.
  • All active policy holders need to work with their tenants if there are issues and follow all pre-action protocols and record this information pre-claim.

Referencing Changes

  • Rent Protection is not available for new lets, however we are conditionally accepting decisions whereby the employment cannot be multi-verified as the employers are closed.
  • We have to also weigh up any potential affordability criteria issues as furlough has now kicked in, and if that employer confirms that the prospective tenant is in receipt of the scheme for the coming months.
  • Lettings are still happening daily and we’re receiving new instructions, many of these are for future move in dates, empty properties and for key workers.

And finally, some other important points to note:

Do not ignore issues during Coronavirus. Where consumers raise issues, they should be dealt with as normal wherever possible. If issues cannot be dealt with, it is important to manage expectations and communicate why in clear terms. If an issue that cannot be addressed until lockdown has ended, communicate this very clearly to your client.

Agents must still be registered for redress.