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How are tenants and landlords affected during Coronavirus?

  1. 26 March 2020
  2. By Daisy Stephens

As much as buying and selling property is affected by the spread of coronavirus, the lettings market is seeing some disruption too.

Written for reallymoving by property expert Kate Faulkner

For tenants, the fear is falling unwell or losing their job, meaning they can’t pay their rent and may face losing their home.

For landlords, in recent weeks they have experienced tenants leaving with just 24 hours’ notice as foreign tenants had to get back home before their country went into lockdown, students have left university towns and the short term, Airbnb-type market has all but dried up along with the travel business.

Protecting rental homes for landlords and tenants

However, the government has stepped in with the most substantial support the rental market has ever seen:
  • Tenant evictions have been banned from mid-March, for an initial period of three months.
  • Buy-to-let landlords with mortgages can take advantage of deferring their mortgage payments if they can prove the tenant is in difficulty and the landlord is passing on the mortgage savings. Read more about what to do if you can’t afford your mortgage payments due to coronavirus.
  • Over one million households in the private rented sector are on benefits and those on Universal Credit are being paid an extra £1,000 over the next 12 months. More financial support is being given towards supporting market rents via the Local Housing Allowance.

Protecting tenants, landlords and agents while letting property

There are over 400 rules and regulations to let out a property legally and safely. Lots of these checks require visits to the home and contact with people, including carrying out electrical, gas and right to rent checks, inventories and checking tenants in and out of a home.  

Landlords also have to carry out certain repairs on a property to make sure it meets the current ‘Habitation Act’ and Housing Health and Safety Rating System requirements, all of which can require visits from various contractors. Some of these may be urgent which is an issue if a tenant is unwell or self-isolating, or if there aren’t enough experts to carry out the work.

If this is the case, landlords and agents need to record the problems and ideally report the issues they are having to their local housing office in order to protect themselves.

We are currently waiting to see if safety certificates will be allowed, as government guidance says that tradespeople are allowed in peoples’ homes for maintenance and repairs (provided neither party is self-isolating or showing symptoms).

Read the latest information from Gas Safe Link.

If you’re a landlord and your tenants are unable to, or refuse to, grant access, make a note of when certificates were due, speak to engineers and electricians, and record that you have chatted to them as well as why you have postponed the visit.

Read more information on letting a property during the coronavirus outbreak.

Renting and letting a property

As with buying and selling a home, landlords, agents and tenants need to abide by the contact guidelines set by the government. That means no viewings, and planned moves should be postponed until after the lockdown unless the move is critical or parties are contractually bound to complete it and agreeing an alternative date is impossible.

If you are searching for a property, you won't be able to view any in person but you might be able to access video viewings.

If you’re using an agent, it’s imperative at this time for landlords and tenants to ensure they have up to date Client Money Protection (CMP), an type of insurance which will protect the rent should they go bust. This has been a legal requirement since April 2019 but many agents aren’t up to date with it. Generally, if you choose an agent that is a member of ARLA, UKALA or Safe Agent then they should have CMP, but always check!

Even after the lockdown has been lifted, you'll need to be cautious when renting out property. There is evidence to suggest that the virus can survive on surfaces for quite some time, so it will probably be a good idea to agree a deep clean, or leave at least 72 hours, between moves.

If you have any problems renting or letting, do comment below and we will do our best to find a solution for you.

Please note: This information regarding the moving industry and Covid-19 was accurate at the time of publication (25.03.20 at 16:00 hrs). Government recommended action is changing constantly, and we will endeavour to keep these articles up to date, but please continue to check the government site for updates on home moving during lockdown.

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