The Ministry of Housing has published new guidance to landlords and tenants contradicting lurid claims last week by lobbying groups that ‘millions’ of tenants will struggle during the crisis.
The Ministry of Housing has played down the likelihood of tenants defaulting on their rent ‘in the millions’ within its latest advice to the private rented sector
It says that ‘in many if not most cases’ the Coronavirus crisis will not affect tenants’ ability to pay rent and that if they do get into trouble, they should reach out as soon as possible to have a conversation with their landlord.
“Landlords are not required to [stop charging tenants rent]. Most tenants will be able to pay rent as normal and should continue to do so, as they will remain liable for the rent during this period.”
The guidance also reminds tenants that rent levels agreed in their tenancy agreements remain legally due and that they should discuss with their landlord if they are in difficulty.
“Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability,” the guidance says.
“As part of our national effort to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak it’s important that landlords offer support and understanding to tenants who may start to see their income fluctuate.”
The Ministry of Housing has also once again underlined its belief that landlords and tenants should discuss payment plans that offer temporary agreement for tenants to pay a lower rent or agree to pay off arrears at a later date.
It has also urged landlords not to launch eviction proceedings without a very good reason, and offered guidance on how to approach the management of properties in which tenants are self-isolating or fighting off the virus.
“If you are not able to gain access to the property due to restrictions in place to tackle COVID-19, or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, we recommend you document your attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants,” the ministry says.
We strongly advise landlords not to commence or continue eviction proceedings during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so.