We plan to add here updates about the COVID-19 and
how agents can mange and survive it. Check back daily
to see the latest. We will put the latest news at the top
of this thread to make it easy to find.
I thought it might be useful to bring all the COVID-19
links together. So here the relevant ones are:
Guidance for landlords and tenants
Main Coronavirus page
Support for businesses
Guidance on claiming Universal Credit
Guidance to the courts on prioritising applications to adjourn
Technical guidance on possessions for landlord (this
contains a few errors so be careful)
General guidance for landlords and tenants
Enforcement guidance for local authorities
Further guidance on repairs and property visits
Stay at home guidance
Guidance on cleaning the home to avoid contamination
useful for contractor visits for cleaning before and after
Guidance on shared accommodation and possible infection
Gas Safe Register advice
Guidance on moving home
Guidance on self isolation
Welcome to week two of COVID-19 lockdown. Over the
weekend MHCLG put out another guide for landlords and
tenants. It can be found here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876500/Consolidated_Landlord_and_Tenant_Guidance_COVID_and_the_PRS_v4.2.pdf
Usefully it makes it clear that tenants should expect to
pay their rent and to utilise support available to do that.
It say local authorities should adjust their enforcement
due to the limited ability of landlords to do works. It says
where safe and reasonable the tenant should allow
contractors access to inspect or remedy urgent health and
safety issues. They include a non exhaustive list including
roof leaking, boiler broken, no washing or toilet, fridge or
washing machine broken, security issues and equipment
relied on by a disabled person. This is really helpful and
the link could be emailed to tenants.
Reassuringly the guidance makes it clear that if the landlord
has taken all reasonable steps to comply they will not be
considered in breach (bottom of page 19). Keep a log of
all activities to prove reasonability.
The Welsh Government have issues their own COVID-19
lockdown advice. Ti can be found here https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-landlords-and-managing-agents-in-the-private-rented-sector-html
Yesterday a new Practice Direction 51Z for the Civil
Procedure Rules (CPR) was issued. It suspends all Part
55 possession claims and enforcement. Part 55 is the
part landlords use for possession under section 8 and
section 21. This applies to enforcement (bailiffs) as
well as current and new court cases. There is a 90 day
suspension from the 27 March. Strangely Practice
Direction says it lasts till 30 October, one month after
the change to the section 21 notices, but presumably as
the suspension is 90 days from the 27 March the October
date is only relevant if they decide to extend the 90 days.
The world moves fast, if not backward! New movement
restriction legislation has been passed. It can be found
Of note is regulation 6 (2)(L) which explains the reasons people
are allowed out of the house including the "moving house
where reasonably necessary". This is not defined but is the
law (note this is law not advice).
Earlier in (2)(a) leaving the house for essential maintenance
and upkeep is allowed. and (f) allows trades people to travel
to jobs "where it is not possible" for that person to work
Schedule 2 lists business that must, by law, close. However
Letting agents are not listed but any responsible agent will
minimise any such office activity, especially if it involve staff
and public transport
Interesting these regulation were made at 1300, were laid
before Parliament at 1430 and became law at 1300 (before
On a lighter note, if you have not seen this it is genius
and worth sharing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KPbJ0-DxTc
Enjoy and have a safe weekend
The court service have suspended all housing possession
cases. This will include all cases where notice has already
been served, expired and a claim has already been lodged
with the court. Full details are here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
The government have issued clarified guidance about
maintenance workers effecting repairs.It can be found
here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance Essentially it says the work is allowed if it is
a direct risk to the safety of the household. This will
obviously include doing the gas safety checks. They
should not do worksif the household are self-isolating,
shielding or sick unless it is of an emergency nature
(gas leak for example). Shielding is where someone
with a vulnerability lives and is avoid all contact, for
example they are elderly with a chronic lung condition.
The engineer should not do any work if they are showing
any symptoms, however mild. Even if work is done, the
social distancing should be maintained with the residents
staying well away from the contractor and both parties
ensuring cleanliness of the site where the work is being
undertaken before and after the works.
Guidance was also issued about moving house. Essentially
the message is avoid moving if possible and only move
where it is essential. The full guidance can be found here
If you do have to have a move then social distancing
rules should be maintained as far as possible.
In both of these cases this is very much the advice we have
been giving all week. Avoid where possible, Be careful and
keep your distance, Complete only if necessary, ABC!
Without going into the technicalities of why, the Coronavirus Act means that even though have to serve 3 months' notice under section 21, but the normal notice (now three months) still only remains valid for 6 months giving you one month less to take court action after expiry of the notice. A small trap for the unwary.
We have just uploaded the latest version COVID-19 documents to the account of subscribers to the Tenancy Agreement, Management Forms, the Support Pack or who attended Wednesday's paid for COVID-19 webinar. The changes are in the documents now call R2-1. There is a new "Agreement to Lease" Document for England that reflects the fact we may not be able to d the move in due to COVID-19 lockdown. We are working on a version for Wales as the Welsh version includes the specified information. We will upload it as soon as possible for clients in Wales. We have also edited the information to Landlords, specifically to ask them not to agree rent deferment without talking to us as it could jeopardise things like rent guarantee insurance. We have also updated the information for agents to explain the section 21 "non changes" explained below.
We have decided that we will use this space to tell you about updated documents too. Therefore, while we are in a state of rapid change (documents changing daily) we will not email out telling you documents have been updated but we will log them here.
We are getting a lot of calls about "new section 21 notices". As below there is no new notice and secondly the courts are not going to give you possession anyway! Please read the post below to explain why it is not a new notice.
0900 amended 1540
The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent last night. You can find the act here (Beware it is 358 pages so a long read!). Section 81 provides protection for residential tenancies though the implementation of Schedule 29.
Please read carefully paragraph 6 and 7 of Schedule 29. IT DOES NOT say that the prescribed forms have been changed. It says the forms are "to be read" as if the references are to three months. We stress this as MHCLG have produce revised versions of their forms 3 and 6A (more later) on the MHCLG web site that no longer match the versions in the legislation. Our advice is stick to the forms we provide as this is what the legislation says the form should say. To show what a mess has been made, they uploaded the revised form 6A into the Form 6. This was amended about 10 o'clock this morning. The new form also makes reference to commencement 27 March 2020 (tomorrow as I write this) when it is already in force! (should that be "farce"?) (This has also now been corrected).
The actual wording of the relevant paragraph for the section 21 notice (para 12(2), 11 is the section 8 notice for Wales as there is no prescribed form for section 21 in Wales) says:
(2)The Schedule to the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England)
Regulations 2015 is to be read, in relation to notices given under section 21(1) or (4) of the Housing Act
1988 during the relevant period, as if in Form 6A (notice seeking possession of a property let on an
assured shorthold tenancy)—
(a)in the section headed “What to do if this notice is served on you”, in the second paragraph—
(i)for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”, and
(ii)the words “if you pay rent quarterly, you must be given at least three months’ notice, or,” were omitted, and
(b)in paragraph 3, for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”.
(Apologies for the formatting, copied and pasted). Note the 3 phrases in red text. 1)"is to be read" It does not say the regulations are changed, it says you read it in a certain way. 2) "As if in Form 6A" again is does not say it is change and indeed if it was changed you would not need to read it "as if" as it would be actually changed. 3) Remember we are "read this ", "as if" the 2 months were substituted for three months. Again not changing it but telling you how to read it. The reason is obvious and simple. this change is for 6 months till 30 September 2020. If they changed the prescribed form they would have to change it back again. This way they don't have to make any changes (now or later) and it is just read in a special way.
Today the Government have made two relevant announcements.
Firstly, they have confirmed that the business rate relief announced for restaurants etc will apply to estate and letting agents for 2021. This is very welcome news.
The full article can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-estate-agents-lettings-agencies-and-bingo-halls-to-pay-no-business-rates-this-coming-financial-year.
Secondly, the Government have effectively confirmed the advice we have been giving on moving house. It should be avoided if possible and if it does need to take place it should be undertaken with the "social distancing" rules. This will require a little creativity but it is not beyond the wit of man to come up with ideas.