Unable to meet your mortgage payments? Fear not! The Coronavirus has led to a tumultuous time with many people self-isolating or quarantining and therefore unable to go to work. The government has taken into account that the next few months are going to be incredibly difficult for people who have to make mortgage payments or pay rent and have placed unprecedented measures to protect renters and borrowers.
There has been a complete ban on evictions for three months, starting on 26 March 2020. It can be extended by the government if the pandemic requires it. No possession claims that are about to be issued – or that are already in the system – can progress to the stage where a tenant can be evicted. However notices can still be served during this period – for example a Section 25 notice can still be served to a tenant to end a business tenancy and the 6 month notice period will run as per normal.
This relates to possession of tenancies in the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988, and will protect all private and social renters, as well those with mortgages and licenses covered by Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Landlord’s may initially fear that this will lead to tenants not having any rent security for the coming three months and how this will affect their ability to meet mortgage payments – especially if rental income is their main source of income – but the government have also announced that the 3 month mortgage payment holiday has been extended to Buy to Let mortgages where tenants are experiencing difficulties paying their rent, due to the coronavirus.
The Pre-Action Protocol is also being modified in light of this unprecedented scenario to include private renters. The aim of this change is to encourage discussions between landlords and tenants once the ban has been lifted. The hope is that this will encourage landlords and tenants to come to a mutual agreement, over accumulated debt through non-payment of rent at this time, rather than force the landlord to pursue legal action for delays in rent payments. Landlords have also been issued new guidance that encourages them to be more flexible and understanding during the current pandemic.
Although these new measures have been welcomed nationwide there will inevitably be some landlords who were on the cusp of seeking legal advice to evict tenants for perfectly justifiable reasons right before the government’s protection from eviction scheme was put in place – you might be one of them? What can you do about it?
It’s completely true that the government has banned possession proceedings for the next three months, but this does not mean that we cannot fully prepare for the end of the hiatus in order to minimize delay once the ban has been lifted. If we prepare now, we can have notices seeking possession (under sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988) ready to be served as soon as possible, these run for 3 months.
SO Legal Solicitors Eastbourne – 01323 407555
SO Legal Solicitors Brighton & Hove – 01273 069920
SO Legal Solicitors Hastings – 01424 709050
SO Legal Solicitors Uckfield – 01825 729840
SO Legal Solicitors Notting Hill – 0203 9677700