24 March 2020

Residential tenancy rent arrears – the emergence of the three month eviction ban

The measures aimed at protecting and supporting the UK population during the Covid-19 crisis now include emergency legislation to prevent both private and public landlords from evicting tenants who cannot pay their rent due to financial hardship resulting from them losing their job or having to take unpaid leave to look after dependents following school closures.

The implementation of legislation sees new eviction attempts banned for a period of three months. The emergence of the three month eviction ban has generated a number of enquiries from our clients, including:

Does the ban come into immediate effect?

Yes, we believe so. Most courts have cancelled bailiff appointments and have put the enforcement stage of possession proceedings on hold. Landlords with existing applications should contact the court dealing with their matter for further guidance.

Is the position the same if the tenant already had rent arrears prior to the emergence of Covid-19?

Our expectation is that it will be a general blanket ban. Information released by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government suggests no tenant should be concerned by the threat of eviction for at least three months.

As a landlord whose tenant has stopped paying their rent, am I eligible for any financial assistance to help me pay my mortgage?

Residential homeowners who are subject to financial hardship during the Covid-19 crisis may be eligible for a three month mortgage holiday. We understand this mortgage holiday will also be extended to buy to let landlords, subject to them meeting the qualifying criteria. Details of the criteria will become apparent in the days and weeks ahead.

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Samantha Houlden, Partner

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