What Effect Is Coronavirus Having on Landlords?

Written by Mathew McCorry

If you read my property blog now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will make you read it.

COVID-19 has undoubtably effected everyone in the UK in some way, we’ve written a few articles on how it’s frozen the property market, what it means for mortgages & what effect it may have on the property market, however we haven’t yet touched on what it means for landlords.

It’s a pretty worrying time for a landlord at the moment, you may be concerned as to whether your tenant can cover the rent or how you would go about doing general maintenance or repairs without breaking lockdown rules.

We’ve done some research and compiled a few questions that you may have and answers to help you understand the new rules on the do’s and don’ts for landlords during lockdown.

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My tenants can’t pay the rent

There’s nothing to say that landlords shouldn’t still charge rent, but the government have suggested you should have a discussion with the tenants to see if there is an agreement you could both come to, such as:

  • Accepting a smaller rent payment for the short term & setting up a plan in which the tenants can pay it back over time
  • As a landlord you may be able to apply for a mortgage payment holiday for up to three months and you can pass the saving on to the tenants

It’s a difficult time for tenants and landlords alike, so any mutual agreement you can come to will be beneficial.

I’ve issued notice, what happens?

If a landlord has already issued a section 8 possession notice then you unfortunately won’t be able to take action on it through the courts for three months as of the 27th March, which is hopefully after lockdown restrictions may have been lifted. This was put in place to protect tenants during the pandemic, ensuring they aren’t left without a place to live.

Can I sell the property?

You can still sell your property as a landlord, but if your tenant has a current tenancy agreement in place then due to the restrictions around the time taken to enforce a section 8 you will need to look into selling your property to another landlord, or offering it out as a BTL (Buy To Let).

During the current climate it may be pretty tricky to sell a BTL property. It can be tricky at the best of times, and Coronavirus has made it even harder with the traditional property market all but grinding to a halt. We may however have a solution for you, we are still actively purchasing properties, including those with sitting tenants.

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Do I need to still do maintenance and repairs?

The Government have stated that the landlord’s responsibilities remain the same, which includes maintenances and repairs. They have however said that it should be a common sense approach, which essentially means that fix and repair any serious issues as long as it’s safe to do so. They’ve also broadened this to say you can get any contractors in to fix any serious problems, although the social distancing rules apply.

In regards to gas and electrical safety inspections, you should still ensure these are conducted, however if you are unable to gain access to the property due to the current restrictions then you need to make sure you document your attempts to do so including all correspondence with your tenants.

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