There are more people who rent privately than own homes with a mortgage. Almost a third of Londoners. Considering the UK as a whole it’s 13 million people, according to the office of National Statistics, who rent.
The Coronavirus Act 2020, passed March 25th, enforced the government’s protection plan for tenants, covering the increase of notice periods, pausing of evictions and stopping of possession. A much needed relief by many. However, the dial has been reset, or is at least turning back gradually to resume pre-pandemic rules.
Initially the notice period extension before eviction proceedings was three months, before being extended further to six months between August 29th 2020 to May 31st 2021. From June 1st this will be decreased to four months. Two months, come August 1st.
While it may seem like a huge hurray for landlords, they have not come out of these reforms unscathed. Remember mortgage payment holidays? Not anymore. Although the Pay as You Grow repayment holiday is still available to commercial properties.
So, what does support look like right now? Conversation seems to be the preferred approach. Renter to landlord. Landlord to bank. The government would like tenants who are still struggling with payments to talk to landlords about creating a plan that would probably lead to reduced or suspended payments for an agreed period. Landlords should discuss support measures with their bank, probably reduced interest or an extended mortgage. It is expected that the government will legislate that landlords cannot take tenants to court before they have sought arbitration on rents.
On the odd chance you have not checked if you qualify for financial support, do so. Housing allowance and Universal credit have been increased to help better cover costs. Emphasis on the word ‘help’ not ‘cover’. Don’t forget to check with what your local council can do.
Can more be done? Yes. Suggestions include discarding ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions altogether, which allows eviction at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement, or during a tenancy with no fixed end date.
As the Government, only yesterday, is back under pressure to address this Landlord and Tenant Covid rent row, I see this issue running and running.