The government has announced a complete ban on evictions in the private and social sectors for any tenant affected by the Coronavirus outbreak - and it’s been done with the blessing of trade groups.
A statement from the government last night said that emergency legislation would be taken forward “as an urgent priority” so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.
“As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction” says the statement, from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The government says that the three month mortgage payment holiday announced earlier this week for owner occupiers would be extended “to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus.”
However, then the onus is left very much with landlords - and presumably agents - to work out what happens next.
The MHCLG says: “At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.”
The government will also issue guidance which asks landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by this to remain in their homes wherever possible.
“This important step on buy to let mortgages ensures parity of support, further to the announcement … that the government made for private mortgage holders. We are also announcing that those who have benefited from a government backed Help to Buy equity loan will be offered interest payment holidays if they are struggling to pay due to coronavirus” the MHCLG statement continues.
David Cox, ARLA's chief executive, says: “We are very conscious of the plight of tenants in these difficult times and appreciate any government action to help those affected by the current situation. Letting agencies rely on rental payments and therefore government must help to ensure agents can maintain their current service levels during any period where rent is not being paid. Specifically, we are calling on government to extend the retail discount on business rates to estate and letting agents.”
Ben Beadle, the chief executive of the brand new National Residential Landlords Association - the merged body from the old NLA and RLA - says: “Landlord groups welcomes government support. We recognise the exceptional circumstances and we will work collaboratively with government to ensure these measures protect both landlords and tenants.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick adds: “The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to Coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts. These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage.
“Which [sic] is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started. These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.”