In the Spring 2021 Budget, Housing Secretary Robert Jenric announced a further 10 week extension to the ban on tenant evictions in the UK and the requirement for landlords to provide six-month notice periods. This latter policy is to run until at least the end of May 2021. Let us take a look at what this means for both landlords and tenants?
This means that most tenants who are served notice to leave their homes will now be able to stay in their rental until at least December. Jenric said: “It is right that as we move through the road map, we ensure that businesses and renters continue to be supported.”
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Can Landlords Evict Tenants During Covid?
In England, the initial ban on bailiff-forced evictions was introduced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Extensions formerly extended the end date to 31 March 2021. However, with the new extension, the ban on evictions will be in place until the end of May.
There are certain exemptions in place for eviction court hearings, including extreme rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, false statements and situations in which the tenant has passed away. The most serious cases are being prioritised.
However, many say that this further extension to the repossessions ban will do nothing to help landlords and tenants financially hit because of the pandemic. Many are accusing the Government of being unwilling to listen to the voices of those most affected.
Here is a closer look at eviction rules around the UK:
England: Eviction enforcement is banned until 31 May.
- Landlords must give six months notice
- …Except ‘in the most serious of cases’, such as instances of domestic abuse or anti-social behaviour.
Scotland: The eviction ban will run until 30 September for all areas under level 3 or level 4 restrictions.
- It will be reviewed every 21 days.
- Landlords must give six months’ notice of eviction in most cases.
- They can give three months’ notice if they or their family intend to move into the rental property or if they have their licence revoked.
- They must give 28 days’ notice if the tenant has engaged in criminal behaviour or has already moved out.
Wales: evictions are banned until 31 March, although this is currently under review.
- Landlords must give six months’ notice of eviction
- Except in cases of anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.
Northern Ireland: there is no ban on eviction enforcement in Northern Ireland, but:
- Landlords must give tenants 12 weeks’ eviction notice until 30 September.
Mortgage Payment Holidays For Landlords
Landlords whose tenants are failing to pay their rent can still apply for payment holidays on their mortgages until 31 March. Deferrals of up to six months in total are allowed. The government states that tenants who cannot afford their rent due to covid should speak to their landlord directly and try to reach an agreement between themselves, which could include reducing or suspending payments in the short term.
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Buy-to-let Landlord Advice During The Pandemic
Your responsibilities as a landlord are by and large unaffected by COVID-19: Any essential repairs must still be carried out and planned gas and electrical safety inspections should be arranged with your tenants wherever possible. If for any reason you can’t carry out any essential work (for example if the tenant is self-isolating), then you must document your attempts to do so in case your council/insurance requests evidence.
You can still carry out viewings and let out homes, but you must adhere to the government’s covid guidelines. These include social distancing, wearing a face covering and providing sanitising equipment for people coming to view properties. If a current tenant is isolating or has COVID-19 symptoms, you won’t be able to conduct viewings.
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When Will The Measures End?
At the beginning of June, the government will make decisions on the best way to move forwards from these emergency measures. They must take into account public health advice and the roadmap. Restrictions on repossessions could start to taper off from 1 June 2021.
Rent Arrears Due To COVID-19
The eviction ban has provided thousands of tenants a degree of stability throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, though some in the industry feels tenants and landlords haven’t been provided enough overall support. If a tenant is unable to pay rent, landlords could end up in financial difficulty as well. There have been calls for the government to provide a financial package to help tenants pay off rent arrears due to the pandemic. The governments in Scotland and Wales are offering loans to struggling tenants. Many are asking England to follow suit.
First Time Buy-To-Let Landlords Mortgage Options Rising
Over the past 12 months, the percentage of mortgage deals available for first-time buy-to-let landlords has risen sharply. Whilst the number of deals has fallen year-on-year, mortgage availability decreased overall throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, evening things out.
The stamp duty holiday and low interest rates have enticed more new landlords to enter the buy-to-let sector despite the unpredictability of the situation. With an increase in new landlords entering the market, lenders have, in turn, gained more confidence and are becoming more willing to lend to first-time landlords. Throughout the coming months, mortgage availability will likely increase even more, providing greater choice and competition.
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