Yesterday, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published guidance on a package of measures to support tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 crisis. In short:
1. From 26 March 2020 until 30 September 2020, landlords will have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession of a property. Both the date of 30 September, and the notice period, can be extended if required. (And, note, a new Form 3 and new Form 6A have been published for s. 8 Housing Act 1988 and Section 21 notices – the links are below).
2. From 27 March 2020, pursuant to Practice Direction 51Z, all ongoing possession and enforcement claims bought under CPR Part 55 are stayed for 90 days (again subject to extension). Claims for injunctive relief are not subject to this stay.
3. With regard to rent – although tenants are still liable for their rent, support is available if they suffer financial hardship. The Government first encourage landlords and tenants to work together to put a rent payment scheme in place. Additional support available includes:-
(a) The Government and Master of the Rolls looking to strengthen the pre-action protocol requirements, and extend these to the private rented sector.
(b) The Government also suggests tenants can rely on its package of £500m to fund households experiencing crises, and its promise to support up to 80% of wages.
(c) Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will increase, and from April Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
(d) The Government have agreed with lenders that support will be available for Landlords where required. Landlords will also be protected by a 3 month mortgage repayment holiday where a Buy to Let mortgage is in place.
4. With regard to dilapidations – landlords remain legally obliged to ensure properties meet the required standard. Urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made. An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords. Local Authorities are also being encouraged to take a “pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement”.
The full guidance can be found here.
Practice Direction 51Z can be found here.
The new Form 3 and Form 6A can be found here.