The impact of Coronavirus on Landlords and Tenants for residential properties

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) IMPACT ON LANDLORDS & TENANTS (Residential property)

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

This article has been prepared in light of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to address the most common queries we have received from Landlords and Tenants for residential properties. The Act has addressed the issues arisen due to the impact of Covid-19 on the landlord and tenant relationship and their obligations under their tenancy agreements.

Can tenants stop paying rent?

No, tenants are required to continue to pay rent as the per the tenancy agreement. If a tenant is unable to make payment they must contact and inform their landlords immediately. A landlord may enter into a temporary agreement to accept lower rent subject to the condition that the tenant will make payment of the difference on a later date.

Can a landlord issue a notice of possession?

Yes, a landlord can issue a notice for possession and claim rent arrears. However, the Coronavirus Act 2020 has extended the notice period to three months. The extended notice period is only applicable until 30 September 2020.

Upon expiry of the three month notice the Landlord can file a claim for possession. But, due to the pandemic the courts have decided to suspend all possession hearing for a period of a 90 days commencing 27 March 2020. This is primarily to prevent unnecessary movement of people.

Does a tenant have to give possession of the property upon expiry of the notice?

Yes, a landlord can issue a notice for possession and claim rent arrears. However, the Coronavirus Act 2020 has extended the notice period to three months. The extended notice period is only applicable until 30 September 2020. Upon expiry of the three month notice the Landlord can file a claim for possession. But, due to the pandemic the courts have decided to suspend all possession hearing for a period of a 90 days commencing 27 March 2020. This is primarily to prevent unnecessary movement of people.

Are landlords required to comply with their obligation of repair and maintenance of the property?

Yes. Landlords are required to comply with their obligation however both the landlord and tenant are to take a common sense approach making arrangements. If the landlord is unable to access the property due to covid-19 restrictions, they are to document all their attempts of resolution.

Remortgaging during the Coronavirus: Is there any benefit in me remortgaging now?

Can I remortgage my property during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

Yes, you can change your mortgage product to a new deal with your existing lender or a new lender. At the end of this process you will not be moving home and the new mortgage will apply to your existing property. You will have to instruct conveyancing solicitors to act on both your behalf and that of the lender.

Is there any benefit in me remortgaging now?

Recently, there has been an influx of Remortgage applications as homeowners take the opportunity to benefit from the low interest rates currently in place. One of the main reasons that one would have to remortgage their property is to obtain a better deal and ensure that they are in the best financial position by reducing the cost of their home loan – a low interest rate ensures this.

I want to avoid early exit fees on my mortgage. What are my options?

You can secure a rate to use months later when the exit fees on your current mortgage no longer apply. A lot of lenders allow you to secure a rate with them 3 to 6 months in advance. This would however mean that if there is a better deal two months down the line you may miss out on that as you will have committed yourself to a deal (by paying the initial fees, usually non refundable,) that will be starting at the end of your existing mortgage term. The pros and cons will therefore have to be weighed in this regard.

For more information on all of the above and our fees for acting on the same please do not hesitate in contacting our property department on 0203 475 4321.

Instructing Property Solicitors during the Coronavirus Lockdown: What should I do?

My offer has been accepted/ I have accepted an offer on a property, can I instruct a Property Lawyer during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

Yes, we are still contactable by phone and email and are equipped to give the same service as we would if we were working out of our offices. We are able to provide quotes and instruction forms over the phone and email.

Once we have dealt with the initial instruction, is it worth starting the transaction?

Taking everything into consideration, yes it would be worth it. On average, a Purchase transaction takes between 8 to 12 weeks from the receipt of draft papers to complete, therefore there is quite a bit of work that has to go in before you can begin to think of the physical move. Please refer to our “Moving Home during Coronavirus” and “Advice for Decontamination” write ups for some points to consider if you are considering moving home during this time.

Would I be able to put a hold on the transaction before I am legally bound by the contract if I am waiting on further guidance from the government on the Coronavirus lockdown?

With the agreement of the other party and their Solicitor, yes. We can progress the transaction all the way to the point of exchange, and pause at that point; this way once both parties are ready to proceed we can almost immediately exchange. If you have any queries on the above, please contact the property team on 0203 475 4321.

The impact of Coronavirus on commercial leases: Landlords and Tenants need to know

The impact of Coronavirus on Commercial Leases: What Landlords and Tenants need to know on rental payments

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding coronavirus. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

The Government’s decision to impose a lockdown meant tenants occupying certain commercial premises would have had to close the doors to their business. This also meant Landlords would not be able to rely on rental incomes from their properties and as such, would have to put measures in place to ensure its continuance. On 23rd March 2020 the UK Government announced protections for commercial tenants. https://www.gov.uk/govern-ment/news/extra-protection-for-businesses-with-ban-on-evictions-for-commercial-tenants-who-miss-rent-payments

The new legislation (Coronavirus Act 2020) has the following effect on Commercial Leases:

The Landlord’s ability to take possession (forfeiture) of the property for Tenants who are unable to pay their rents has been suspended. As of 26 March 2020 no commercial Tenant can be forced from their business premises if they do not pay their rent. Existing possession orders have been suspended until after 30th June 2020 at the earliest, which is when the provision will be reviewed.

The suspension of rent cannot be considered a payment holiday and the Tenant will be liable for the entire rent at some stage regardless of their circumstances. It would therefore be wise for a Tenant to approach the Landlord for a payment plan to spread the rental arrears over the future period/Lease term.

Taking the above into account, the Landlord and Tenant can take some of the following practical steps to try and ensure that they are in the best position moving forward:

It is unlikely that the current Coronavirus crisis and the recent change in the Government’s emphasis to Stay Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives, will release the Landlord or the Tenant from their obligations. Hence it is vital that expert advice be sought and any legal actions are considered carefully.

Should you wish to discuss any of the above please do not hesitate to contact our property team on 0203 475 4321.