The coronavirus pandemic has created major challenges for the rental sector, with the lockdown creating a crisis of reduced hours and job losses for many workers. As a result of this, many renters are struggling to make their rent payments.
With the government implementing measures to help businesses and residential tenants, such as a halt on the eviction of tenants, many landlords are left in uncharted territory and must renegotiate terms with their tenants.
Firstly, it is important to note that it is not only tenants who are facing problems. Landlords are also taking a hit and struggling too, with COVID-19 dealing a blow to property investments for buy-to-let landlords.
However, landlords have access to holidays from mortgage payments, with some groups calling for a relief on other costs such as rates for their buy-to-let properties in order to better support their renters.
There have also been reports of tenants threatened with eviction and suggestions that they must use their savings to pay their rent or that any deductions to rent will be only as deferred loans.
On a positive note, people have rallied together through the crisis. For example, neighbours have delivered groceries and other supplies to older residents or those in self-isolation, which has come separately from the formal government response. Many people see the coronavirus crisis as a shared struggle, and there are many examples of goodwill.
In this current environment, landlords will be rightly concerned with protecting their investment and continuing to pay their mortgages. They also may be concerned on how to best help their tenants.
The problem remains, however, that there are no guidelines available for how a landlord could help, and each landlord is responding to the crisis in a different way. Evidence suggests that letting agents are contacting landlords directly about how to respond to rent reduction requests and attitudes to eviction.
Firstly, it is a good idea to talk directly with your tenants if possible. Each individual will be struggling with different pressures, so it is vital to understand what position you will be put in as a landlord. Investigate if your bank is offering any concessions and what your landlord insurance policy covers you for.
Ensure that as a landlord your letting agent reflects your values, and emphasise that they notify you should they hear that the tenant is experiencing trouble. In fact, some landlords have requested that communication between the letting agent and tenant is approved by them first.
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Options to help your tenants through the coronavirus pandemic could be to offer deferrals in rent payments or rental reductions. It is important to note that the effects of this crisis are impacting everyone, and we are all in this together. All parties in the rental sector, including letting agents, landlords and tenants, are feeling the effect of this pandemic.
Many households across the UK have already been forced into unemployment, while many landlords will have also lost their jobs. In addition to this, many letting agents will be overwhelmed and unsure about how to keep their businesses afloat while providing temporary solutions to their clients efficiently and effectively. Many individuals in the current climate, both landlords and tenants alike, wish to do what they can to help.
Currently, everyone is waiting in anticipation for the impact and shape of the next response to this crisis from the government. Although it is impossible to plan adequately for the long term, individual landlords can help tenants through the crisis as well as receive government help themselves.
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