The parliamentary housing select committee has decided to find out what YOU think of the government’s handling of the Coronavirus crisis from a housing perspective. Here one expert gives his view.

MPs have asked landlords, tenants and suppliers to the private rental market to tell them how well the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has handled the Coronavirus crisis.

Tim Frome, Legal Director of Landlord Action, has submitted his views to the consultation under way. He largely praises the MHCLG’s handling of the crisis and the speed of its response to the day-to-day challenges thrown up by COVID-19.

But he also tells MPs that there are several areas where minister should have, and will need to, have sorted problems out.

This includes both now and in the future as the pandemic plays out within the private rented market.

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He says:

  • Make it clear to tenants that the ‘mortgage holiday’ offered to some landlords does not mean tenants are automatically due a corresponding ‘rent holiday’.
  • Ensure tenants understand the recent changes to evictions and other measures have not cancelled tenancies; many, including thousands of student renters, have assumed it is acceptable to walk away from rental contracts without consequence.

“We are aware that some of the commercial student accommodation providers have gone above and beyond in assisting tenants by confirming they would end the tenancies early if the tenants so requested,” Frome points out.

  • Deposits are likely to become a problem as tenants default on rent, but landlords use this money to help make up the shortfall. This means there will little money left to dilapidations and the end of tenancy.
  • If the tenants have not been paying the rent it is unlikely they have been paying for other services such as council tax and utilities so there will be a knock-on effect to keeping these tenants in the properties.
  • Lastly, Frome says the government needs to take action to help manage the huge backlog in eviction hearings in the courts that will have built up during the crisis, a situation that will get worse unless the courts re-open in June. The best way to do this would be to freeze proceedings until the backlog is cleared, he urges.

Visit the committee’s parliamentary page to have YOUR say.

Read comments made to the committee by Robert Jenrick.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Tim Frome is obviously not a landlord and therefore does not understand the position many of us are in. I have not been able to fill the empty rooms and have been asked for rent cuts.

  2. The goverment is proababy smoking something potent, because I as a landlord do not have the financial stability to give people rent holidays, making ends meet is was already a struggle.

    I have several properties, but ever since the government removed the ability of residential landlords to claim mortgages as an business expense, it has become difficult.

    Councils, pension funds, limited companies can continue to claim commeetcial mortgage expenses but not landlords with commercial mortgages!

    What renters forget, is that it is no longer a level mortgage field, I pay commercial interest rates for buy to let, which is significantly much more than what the mortgage interest rate thepublic pay for buying their own home.

    I am was planning on selling some of the properties, buy covid came along.

    Every landlord is not a cowboy, yes a few bad apples are. in the same way not all tenants are bad.

  3. A financial aid package is needed for landlords who like me find themselves with zero income when their tenants are unable to pay their rent. Landlords cannot be furloughed and are not eligible for Business Interruption Grants as rental income is classed as Unearned Income.

  4. I am a commercial and residential landlord, I also feel there’s not been enough support for landlords, such as business rates for sme’s (although gapped as my other commercial interest are suffer that fate) we should be allowed full tax relief for the next 12 months to recover
    We must also fully appreciate as landlords that it’s not just our income as properties, it is also we gain capital application too.
    The majority of all sectors have been brilliant throughout in the way people at all levels have communicated and dealt with each other in what are not to dissimilar to war like situation.

    Not being cruel to either side of the landlord and tenant nightmares, but cashflow management hasn’t been some of there strengths, if you do not take out all and do not have a raining day reserve, as hard as it is as a temptation and need to touch it, then start taken the rewards once you have a cashflow buffer, then spend away, greatest of respects landlords crying as no cash especially if the lenders are playing ball too, they shouldn’t be in trouble, but life’s send today and pay tomorrow Uk, has to stop, what if there was no bail out and who’s going to pay for all these funds the government don’t have !

    One property I didn’t take a penny for years to allow a build up to be able to pay the lender without income, I have friend who could only put away 20% as I advised it’s crucial, he thanks me now, please people do the same.

    The lesson is capital adequacy, being a landlord is a professional business and should be run like one and I believe the majority of professional landlords are not in trouble at all, in fact they can and are assisting there tenants too, to keep complete occupancy using long term term commercial sense

    How many people take an increased mortgage advances as values increase over the years of ownership and do they put half of it away for a cov 19 day, as those that did aren’t crying now.

    I agree with Frome, re the courts and the shaken bottle of champagne bottle bursting once you take the cork out and they need to either defer or use a mediation services, as you would a modern day divorce, to expedite matters, which will lead to less emotional And financial pain, thank you, Mr Frome, for fighting our corner as the legal system is broken, the court situation is failing landlords is the most critical scenario to get sorted.

  5. I have five small properties that I rent out in the North of England. I have no mortgages but am retired and have very little other income apart from a pension. I need the rent to live on. If the tenants don’t pay their rent I have very little income.

    One of my tenants has lost their job and their partner has been furloughed so they have claimed benefits. Normally a tenant who may lose their job would claim Housing Benefit or Universal credit and get all or most of their rent paid. I don’t see why this is different apart from the scale. Not all landlords are wealthy or can pass on the problem to a mortgage company.

  6. The response was totally inadequate, a buck-pass exercise from what Government should have done, which was individual involvement with renters. How did landlords become involved? The main point about crisis management is that as few people are supposed to be affected by the crisis as possible. Further there was no understanding of who the average UK private rented landlord actually is ie non-corporate, owning one to three properties, and often dependent on them for retirement income as myself. Worst of all though was that the moratorium on evictions applied to tenants of anti-social behavioural inclinations every bit as much as those in financial default. Hence me having a tenant in Liverpool who is simply running riot and me suffering the consequences in continual neighbour complaint, etc without being able to do much to alleviate the situation. That aspect of the Coronavirus Act was purest madness.

  7. Of course deposits may be used for rent defaulting once the tenant is evicted.
    Or the LL and tenant can agree to use all or some of the deposit to be used for rent arrears.
    The tenant can then restore the deposit when achievable.

  8. The government suggested a rental holiday was OK, but did not stress this was a last ditch option and would involve debt, and they certainly did not give full consideration to the plight of landlords. They supposed landlords would be able to compensate for the loss of rental income with a mortgage holiday. The problem with this is not all expenses are mortgage related – e.g. one block of flats I own rent is inclusive of water rates and communal heating. Other costs include maintenance (just spent £17k on a new roof for a block of 8 flats) and other expenses. Further, the interest on a mortgage holiday is added on to the total one owes. Not all tenants will pay you back, so even a modest mortgage of £300k will rack up £3000 a month in interest over 3 months. Over a 20 year repayment term that’s an additions £20 a month! Another important point missed is not all landlords have a mortgage, yet owners rely on the income to live off.

    Once again, Government leveraged the current narrative that landlords are greedy. Instead of helping renters directly then knew they could pass the burden on to landlords because there would be little sympathy for their losses.

  9. I for one will be reviewing rents, in the past I haven’t been greedy don’t automatically lift rents every 12 months , never tried to squeeze every last penny out of tenants tried to be fair all round always kept property immaculate . Given the way landlords have been thrown to the wolves . In future I intend to maximise rental income , cut maintainance to bare minimum generally look after number one

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