Any change in circumstances raises new questions, but something as dramatic and far reaching as the Coronavirus pandemic and Government imposed movement and working restrictions, has had a significant impact on the lives of many people currently renting.
This article answers the most important questions we’ve been receiving from tenants. So if you are currently renting and being affected by the Coronavius pandemic, read on for a better understanding of the current legislation and financial options available to you as a tenant.
Here we’ve provided a list of the questions covered in this article, so you can jump to the answer relevant to you.
Do I still need to pay my rent?
Whilst Government assistance has been offered for those with mortgages, if you are renting a property your financial commitments and all other conditions agreed at the start of your tenancy remain unchanged. Your rent payment is still lawfully due in full each month.
Currently there is no Government scheme offering a rent payment holiday.
The Government have set up a scheme to help people with their finances, so if you have financial concerns we recommend you visit the Government website for further information on how their support can benefit you.
What if I can’t afford my rent?
It is important that tenants, landlords and agents work together during this period. We are taking every reasonable measure to ensure all parties continue to adhere to the legally binding terms of their tenancy agreement.
In practice Landlords must be reasonable, so if you can’t afford to pay your rent it might be possible (upon agreement with the landlord) to agree a temporary reduction in your rent payment, for a limited period of time. However, until an agreement is reached the rent you owe remains unchanged at the full amount.
Is important to understand that any rent reduction agreed by your Landlord will be made on the basis that the shortfall is settled once normal service is resumed.
You still owe the full amount stated in your tenancy agreement. It is therefore really important to only enter into such an arrangement if it is absolutely necessary to avoid accumulation of debt.
My tenancy is due to end shortly, what should I do?
If you are renting a property through Burns & Webber and your tenancy is coming to end shortly, if we haven’t already been in contact expect a call from us to discuss this soon.
Given the restriction on movement currently in place we are strongly urging tenants and landlords to renew their tenancies wherever possible.
We would encourage tenants to ensure that you have taken both your financial and personal circumstances into account before agreeing to the terms of the renewal.
If you are renting a property, whether through Burns & Webber or another agent, if you have any concerns or wish to discuss this in more detail, our dedicated renewals team is available and would be more than happy to assist.
Can my landlord evict me at the moment?
A landlord can still serve a notice to evict a tenant at this time, but until September 2020, the notice period has been increased to a minimum of 3 months and possession proceedings through the courts are currently suspended.
We are recommending that landlords do not serve legal notices to tenants during this crisis in line with Government advice.
Is it possible for my landlord sell the house?
Whilst sales are being agreed via our Virtual Viewing service, we are recommending that anyone (including Landlords) who wants to sell their property, should wait until things return to normal, when professional photographs and floorplans can be created to fully market the property for sale.
Are Gas Safety Checks still going ahead?
Yes. Government guidelines state that it continues to be a legal requirement for properties to pass Gas Safety Checks. As such all landlords are required by law to have a valid Gas Safety Certificate for their property.
Our contractors are still working to complete Gas Safety Checks whilst adhering to the required social distancing guidelines.
Can you tell me if my landlord is taking a mortgage holiday?
Landlord finances are never disclosed to tenants. Although some owners may benefit from mortgage breaks, they still have to make up this payment within the period of their loan.
Rent still continues to be due in full, but if we can understand your financial situation, it might be possible to put together a payment plan for you, but only with the Landlord’s consent.
It is worth noting that any payment plan agreed should always fall in line with the initial term of the Tenancy. We would advise that tenants take this into consideration and make arrangements accordingly.
Who do I contact in an emergency or to organise repairs?
Although not currently office based, our locally based property management team is still operating, so if you need to contact us during working hours Monday to Friday between 9.30am – 4.30pm, call us on 01932 221125 or email [email protected].
Out of hours you can continue to use the Emergency Contact Information issued in your tenant welcome pack.
How is maintenance work carried out during lockdown?
During the current restrictions that have been put in place by the Government, we are only able to facilitate essential works such as carrying out safety checks that are a legal requirement or tending to an uncontrollable water or gas leak, fire, flood, electrical fault or anything else that may pose a danger to you.
Should the maintenance items be of a less urgent nature which is not putting you at risk, please understand we will only be able to organise a repair when normal service resumes and with the Landlord’s consent.
Please be assured that should a contractor have to enter the property to carry out any essential work, every precaution will be taken to protect you both against any risk of transmission of Coronavirus.
Anything we’ve not answered?
Have you got any questions we’ve not covered in this article? Feel free to contact your local lettings branch or message us on social media.
If you are currently looking for a place to rent, the Government movement restrictions during the Coronavirus pandemic may be prohibiting us from accompanying potential tenants on viewing appointments, but Burns & Webber have launched our Virtual Viewing service.
When you enquire about a property we’ll send you a link to a private video tour and feedback your comments to the owner of the property. This approach has been successful in agreeing sales and tenancies during lockdown, so if you are ready to move, so are we.