The Coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption to homes, businesses and industries, with many people concerned about how they will pay their bills, support their families and maintain their livelihoods. For landlords and tenants the uncertainty surrounding rental payments, current living arrangements and potential contingency plans are understandably at the forefront of many people’s minds.

It is now more important than ever to look to support one another in any capacity we can in order to navigate this challenging time. Today, the NLA and RLA have released a joint statement providing detailed guidance on steps landlords can take.

“We are encouraging all landlords to work positively with tenants to provide support where needed throughout this difficult period. Landlords should be as flexible as they can to help tenants facing payment difficulties resulting from the impact of the coronavirus.

To support landlords in this we are calling for a package of measures from government and mortgage providers. This includes a temporary scrapping of the five week wait before Universal Credit claimants get their first payment, pausing the final phase of restricting mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax and ensuring lenders look sympathetically on requests by landlords for mortgage payment holidays where their income is being affected through reduced or non-payment of rent.” Read the full landlord guidance here.

Positive landlord and tenant stories prevail

Despite the uncertainty created by Coronavirus, positive and heart-warming stories have emerged of landlords taking proactive and thoughtful steps to help support their tenants at this difficult time.

A tenant, Amy Gledhill, tweeted an emotional statement surrounding the current pandemic, which has now had 22.5K retweets and 171.7K likes on the social media site, after her landlord messaged her about the current uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Her landlord, Chris, wanted to ensure that she felt “secure in the house” and would be open to working something out if her “circumstances change”, he signed off by asking Amy and her family to take care of themselves.

In her tweet, Amy implores other landlords to also do the same.

Opening good lines of landlord tenant communication is vital to help provide mutual support and guidance during times of uncertainty and can make a real difference to those concerned about their current position.

A twitter poll conducted by LandlordZONE asking “Landlords, would you give your tenants a rent holiday due to the impact of Coronavirus?” found a close split between those who said they would (48.2 per cent) and those who currently wouldn’t offer rent holidays at 51.8 per cent.

This is a difficult decision for landlords, many of whom most likely would like to be able to offer rent holidays but are unable to due to the immense pressure this puts on their own finances, bills and mortgages. It is important to note that whether you are a landlord or a tenant you are likely to currently be in the same boat at the present time, and so working together to find workable solutions that benefit you both is a sensible approach. 

Current support for landlords and their tenants

The Government has now announced a comprehensive package to support the private rented sector, this will apply to both landlords and tenants providing security during this period.

In a statement released on the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) website, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that landlords will be offered a three-month mortgage holiday for the duration of the Coronavirus outbreak.

In addition, there will be a delay in eviction proceedings for three months during the current pandemic. The Housing Secretary commented: “The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.”

The MHCLG also stated that guidance will be issued which asks landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by this to remain in their homes wherever possible. 

To recap, landlords should be aware of the following announcements from the MHCLG:

  • Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place
  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis
  • Landlords will also be protected as three month mortgage payment holiday is extended to buy to let mortgages

In these unprecedented times support, compassion and understanding are the key messages reiterated throughout the sector.

It is highly likely that additional measures and/or updates will be provided in the coming days which will impact on landlords and their tenants. Make sure to regularly check GOV.UK and MHCLG for the most up to date advice and guidance.

Landlord and tenant wellbeing

Now more than ever it is incredibly important to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of your tenants.Coming together and supporting your tenants during this time can help you to maintain a good landlord-tenant relationship, as well as helping to reassure tenants who may be concerned over recent developments and worried about issues such as paying the rent.

Some top tips for supporting the mental wellbeing of your tenants and yourself include:

  • Understand your tenant’s current needs. This can help you to be able to provide suitable support. In challenging times, you may need to prioritise your tenant’s wellbeing or look for mutually beneficial solutions to the problems you both face
  • Communication is absolutely essential. It is important for landlords to establish a clear line of contact with their tenants
  • Don’t just be a landlord, be a friend. Nobody knows what the next few weeks will bring and this uncertainty will be causing many landlords to feel concerned. Sharing your worries with your tenants will help everyone to see concerns from each other’s points of view. It is very likely that you are both experiencing similar worries
  • Don’t forget to also protect your mental health as a landlord.

Read more information on how you can support your tenant’s mental wellbeing, as well as your own, here.

With the current situation developing day by day there is a significant amount of further change on the horizon for the whole of the UK. The main message at the present time is to support one another, stay on track with industry and government updates and ‘keep calm and landlord on’.

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