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Government Issues New Guidance for Landlords During Lockdown

Rent Guarantor Apr 02, 2020

As the country settles in to lockdown and the idea that returning to 'normality' is months away, the Government has issued updated guidance for landlords and tenants. They include clarification on paying rent, confirmation that eviction notices shouldn't be pursued unless it’s absolutely essential and that urgent repairs and maintenance should still be carried out. 


The Government has also relaxed Right to Rent rules, while agents in London’s Prime rental market have begun agreeing new tenancies but with post-dated move in dates. All of these changes and adaptations of existing business practices show the Government and letting professionals are doing everything they can to ensure rental homes are available for everyone who needs them right now.

New advice on rent, evictions and maintenance 

As the lettings industry attempts to continue to provide and maintain rental homes across the UK, the Government has given clear advice on particular areas to help make it easier for landlords, letting agents and tenants to know what they should and shouldn’t do during the Corona Virus lockdown.

With regards to rent arrears and notices of possession, the Government states in its new 21-page document, no new proceedings will be permitted until the end of September. However, proceedings then will only begin where landlords have given their tenants at least three-months’ notice of their intention to pursue eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent.   

Existing housing possession cases, meanwhile, which are already in the process of going through the courts are also suspended for a 90-day period from March 27th. 

“We strongly advise landlords not to commence new notices seeking possession during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so,” the Government’s guidance states. “It is essential that we work together in these unprecedented circumstances to keep each other safe.”  

With regards to the upkeep of rental properties, including regular maintenance and urgently required works, the guidance encourages landlords to ensure their tenants are living in homes that are safe and fit for human habitation. Where urgent problems arise then landlords and letting agents must act to rectify the problem quickly in sensible and safe manner.

“We understand that planned inspections may be more difficult at this time. However, that is no reason to allow dangerous conditions to persist,” the guidance states. However, the Government also shows it understands that there may be times when rectifying a problem might be challenging.

“If you are not able to gain access to the property due to restrictions in place to tackle COVID-19, or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, we recommend you document your attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants,” it said.

Relaxation of Right to Rent rules

While the rules relating to letting and managing rental homes in the UK remain unchanged, the Government recognises that business can’t always be conducted as usual. With regards to right to rent checks, the Government has said it is willing to accept scanned documentation in lieu of original documents, at this time.

However, once the pandemic abates and lockdown rules are eased or removed, where scanned documents where used, the tenant will be required to provide original documentation to retain their rental home.

“Once the temporary changes end, landlords and employers will be asked to carry out the full checks on existing tenants and employees who rented a property or started work during the pandemic,” according to Home Secretary Priti Patel.

In addition to Government action and guidance, the private sector is also making some allowances for these current more difficult times. Property management firm Knight Frank has begun renting out properties with so-called ‘corona clauses’.

This means it is agreeing new letting contracts, allowing tenants to secure the property of their choice, but with post-dated move in and rental dates. This means no rent will be paid until a certain date or certain developments occur.

“What that demonstrates to me is that peoples’ current mindset is a temporary one and they know life will go on,” said Knight Frank’s head of central London lettings, David Mumby.

With so much flexibility on show in the UK’s rental industry its clear that every measure is being taken to ensure everyone has a safe home regardless of the new and unexpected situation they now find themselves in.

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