On the 25th March 2020 the Coronavirus Act (“the Act”) received royal assent and became law, temporarily changing the landscape of private leasing overnight.
So what are the practical effects of the Act for landlords and tenants?
At Banner Jones we are here to help you through this difficult period and assist you in understanding and resolving the issues that may arise as a consequence of the Act.
It is important to understand initially what has changed.
The main headline grabbing change is that all possession proceedings have been suspended for 90 days until 30 October 2020. This means that during this period all proceedings to obtain or enforce possession orders are “paused”.
What it doesn’t mean, however, is that the obligations of the landlord or tenant are suspended for this period as well. Tenants will still need to pay rent, unless a formal agreement is made with their landlord to the contrary. If you are considering entering into any variation of the parties obligations under the tenancy agreement, it is important to formalise this agreement to protect the interests of both parties by avoiding any ambiguity. It is particularly important to formalise the period any rent ‘holiday’ and how any arrears will be paid in the future.
At Banner Jones Solicitors we can assist in advising on the format of this agreement and assist in drafting the agreement.
It is also important for landlords to ensure that they uphold their responsibilities and ensure that repairs are carried out, inspections continue to take place and compliance with gas and safety regulations are adhered to.
To ensure that social distancing is observed so far as possible, arrangements for inspections and safety checks will need to be carefully considered. It may also be prudent to serve documentation, such as gas safety certificates by post, before verifying receipt of the documentation by telephone or email.
If as a landlord you are unable to access the property, keep a record of all correspondence and communications with your tenant recording why you were unable to attend the property, such as one of the parties self-isolating at the relevant time.
Another point that is noteworthy is that the effect of the Act on the service of Notice Seeking Possession. Until further notice, the Act requires 3 months’ notice to be given to the tenant, regardless of whether a Section 21 or Section 8 notice is served..
In light of the implications of the Act, and the constantly evolving public health crisis, it is imperative that landlords in particular ensure that they adapt to and comply with the changes. We can assist you in providing the appropriate advice and assistance.
Our Landlord & Tenant team in Chesterfield, Mansfield and Sheffield can provide a landlord “health and safety check” as well as advice and assistance in relation to possession proceedings and any practical issues that may arise at this time.