Government extends ban on evictions and notice periods
The uncertain financial times COVID-19 has brought has prompted the government in England to extend the ban on evictions until 20th September 2020 amid fears that thousands could lose their homes. The extension brings the ban to a total of 6 months. In addition to the further extension, new 6-month notice periods are to be in place until at least 31st March 2021. Although, in cases of over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears, the notice period is 4 weeks.
What does this mean for landlords?
A long wait to evict tenants. This wait becomes even longer when reading this statement released by the government “Once eviction hearings restart, the judiciary will carefully prioritise the most serious cases including those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse”. This leaves landlords wanting to evict their tenants for rent arrears in a tough situation. Even when the courts re-open, an obvious backlog of cases will prevent eviction proceedings in the less serious cases being brought for a substantial period of time.
How serious is the problem?
Interestingly, Independent polling for the National Residential Landlords Association recently found that 87% of private tenants have paid their rent as normal throughout the pandemic so far. An additional 8% said that they had agreed a reduced rent, a rent-free period or made some other agreement with their landlord or letting agent.
However, this still leaves thousands of renters in arrears.
The data does raise one important key point which may be overlooked. Landlords are prepared to be flexible in the unprecedented climate we find ourselves in.
What should the government do to soften the blow to landlords and help tenants pay off the debt?
One popular opinion floating around is the idea of an interest free loan to tenants in rent arrears. This would ensure landlords are paid what they are owed and potentially even keep tenants in their homes all together. This would however be an expensive feat and some commentators argue that where tenants are already struggling to pay off their rent, how can it be guaranteed that they can pay back a loan?
What is the answer?
There are no easy answers. However, one option to explore is the possibility of mediation.
TDS Resolution is an independent body offering a low-cost mediation style service where landlords and tenants are encouraged to agree a suitable rent arrears repayment plan. Often, involving a third party in this way can help to facilitate an agreement between parties. This is carried out by analysing the situation from a pragmatic standpoint. It also offers professional advice by personnel who are skilled at talking through issues with landlords and tenants, de-escalating situations and getting to the fundamental question of what the tenant can reasonably afford?
To find out more please visit www.tdsresolution.com or get started now using our interactive form below.