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Covid-19 - What Can Residential Landlords Expect?

Emily Lam, Senior Associate at Collyer Bristow, comments

As the UK enters uncharted territory, there will be many changes to ‘business as usual’. Among these changes, there may be significant factors for residential landlords to keep in mind.

Proposed emergency eviction freeze
The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that the government would pass emergency legislation to protect tenants from eviction if they fall into ‘financial difficulties’ as a result of the ongoing crisis. Financial difficulties have not been defined, however, it is anticipated that ‘difficulty’ need only be the potential for and will be presumed valid if raised as an issue.

Details of this legislation are still limited but they are likely to affect the ability of landlords to evict residential tenants in the usual manner, relying either on section 8 notices or section 21 notices. Currently, this only applies to new proceedings, but there are demands for a complete freeze on ongoing proceedings as well.

Possible rent freeze
The Acorn Union, described as a community and tenants’ union, has begun a petition calling for the Government:
• to enact a rent suspension for anyone unable to pay rent during the crisis;
• to freeze all current section 21 or section 8 evictions;
• to freeze all current evictions of Housing Association and council tenants; and
• to extend the ban on eviction proceedings to cover lodgers.

The petition notes the potential mortgage holiday for landlords and demands that rents be suspended. It remains to be seen how the government will react to these demands. Currently, the Government’s position does not seem to affect ongoing evictions proceedings except by mortgage firms, but things are changing quickly.

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