The government should support landlords to help them keep their tenants rather than leaving them no choice but to issue possession proceedings against those not paying rent, the Law Society has told the government.
The solicitors’ body has also questioned how effective the Government’s advice to landlords about having ‘open and honest conversations’ on rent will be long-term, and believes that while an eviction ban was needed at the start of lockdown, there now needs to be a recognition that landlords are losing income.
In its evidence for the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee on the impact of Covid-19 on homelessness, rough sleeping and the private rented sector, The Law Society flags up the current availability of contractors, landlords’ limited ability to carry out regular inspections of properties and their reduction in income.
It says: “Questions also arise as to how quickly landlords will be required to make non-urgent repairs brought to their attention during the lockdown.
“Once the lockdown is lifted, landlords may be overwhelmed with disrepair issues, and may have limited time and funds to carry them out.”
It also voices concerns that the extension to the evictions ban could defer issues and cause tenants to accumulate rent arrears, while courts will struggle with a surge in applications.
The Law Society suggests making Section 21 applications discretionary, with strict guidance issued for judges about considering special circumstances such as the likelihood of an agreement being reached between landlord and tenant over repayment of arrears.
It adds: “The renting of properties must not become untenable for landlords during this period and tenancies must remain available to support the wider renting market.
Both landlords and tenants have a part to play in this and more support should be offered to landlords to keep renting a viable prospect as the country moves out of lockdown.”