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Coronavirus: Buy-to-let payment holiday and eviction ban announced

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Payment holidays for landlords with buy-to-let mortgages are among a package of measures introduced by the government today in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The payment holidays, for up to three months, will be offered on the understanding the benefit is to be passed on to the tenant. The move follows extensive lobbying on the issue from both the NLA and RLA.

It has also announced it will also suspend the eviction process, with no new possession proceedings to start during the crisis, with emergency legislation to be taken forward so landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for a three-month period.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account the tenant’s individual circumstances.

What has the government said?

Making the announcement today Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “We are in extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are worried about paying their rent and mortgage. 

“The last thing anyone needs to worry about at a time like this is losing their home.

“The government is clear – no renter who has lost income to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord be left with unmanageable debts.

“These changes will protect both renters and landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need.”

What does the RLA say?

With measures announced so far focussing on homeowners at the expense of the PRS the RLA is pleased the government is now looking at the issues faced by landlords and tenants. 

However, it believes more flexibility is needed.

RLA policy manager John Stewart said: “Our priority is to ensure tenants are secure in their homes during this crisis. 

“The three month buy to let mortgage payment holiday will take a lot of pressure of landlords enabling them to be as flexible as possible with tenants facing difficulties with their rent payments. 

“No responsible landlord will be considering evicting tenants because of difficulties arising from the current situation. 

“There does need to be some flexibility though such as with dealing with a tenant engaging in anti-social behaviour. This could cause misery for fellow tenants or neighbours especially when they are going to be spending a lot of time together.

“We would like to see further measures taken including pausing the final phase of restricting mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax due in April.

“In addition we need to do all we can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“There should be national guidelines for local authorities to suspend routine inspections of properties and a temporary halt on enforcement action where landlords are unable to fulfil certain required obligations because of the health risk posed to them, tenants and contractors.”

More information

The RLA has been lobbying on behalf of landlords, asking for a comprehensive package of measures  from government and mortgage lenders to help landlords help tenants.

It has also put together a guide for landlords including help and advice on protecting your tenants and running your lettings in these challenging times.

We are receiving daily briefings direct from MHCLG on the situation and will keep you updated on news affecting you, your tenants and your business via our websites and social media channels @RLA_News


About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

11 Comments

  • Thank you fir your lobbying!! Additional HMO landlords. For landlords that include utilities (as legally responsible in HMOs and C Tax) we need relief to cover this with no rents coming in.

  • Surely the whole interest relief ought to be 100% for this year given the current situation, there will be many people unable to meet payments due to tenants unable to pay, 3 months is a good start but all too often people do not prioritise the roof over their head. Self employed landlords / individuals without premises from where they work won’t Even get the £10k grant other businesses will benefit from. Easy to hit landlords but often there’s a lot of work helping vulnerable tenants that goes unseen, l know this to be true.
    Urgent action is needed else the private rental sector and the housing market could see free fall in a year or two off the back of this if it’s not properly shored up from the word go and countless properties end up being repossessed and lost to the tenants the govt is trying to help. The knock on will be further down the line if it’s not dealt with properly right now.

  • Whilst I acknowledge the need to protect tenants at this time and the exact nature of the measures proposed are not clear, there seems to be no allowance where the tenant was already in arrears prior to the crisis and therefore under current legislation the landlord is in a position to serve a Possession Notice at the end of March.

    It is disingenuous for a tenant to now claim ‘coronavirus’ as the reason, especially where there have been no responses to attempts to open a dialogue as to why the rent remains unpaid.

    • I have a buy-to-let that has been empty for four months already, for the simple reason there have been no takers.
      Does anybody know (or can point me in the right direction for info) if there is a plan for a payment holiday or reduced interest rate on empty buy-to-lets that will now remain empty due to the lock down?

      Many thanks
      Paul

  • Isn’t the problem that this is the news tenants were waiting to hear and even those able to pay will be reluctant and pocket the rent themselves

    I cannot see a tenant being in a position to repay the money that has been accrued in coming months
    Many work in leisure and hospitality which will not come back quickly

    It’s a very sorry situation. I know it has to be done but the government should consider offering a concession such as tax relief over the whole of the unpaid rent

  • While we can all appreciate it’s going to be a tough time for tenants, it would of been a better idea for the government to ask tenants to apply for universal credits. Instead we have tenants just expecting 3 months free rent some on social media saying they are going to keep their 3 months rent and move on after this crisis. Leaving us landlords still paying for building insurance, service charges for flats, maintenance costs, boiler break downs, gas safe certificates and not forgetting 100% council tax on empty properties. Us landlords are not made of money I wish we were. Just before the crisis hit Durham County Council were looking at a licensing scheme at the cost of £500 per property and after not increasing my rents for over 10 years to help my long term tenants. I would have no option but to increase rents if this scheme was to be approved the scheme was due to come into force next year. This will not help my tenants when they will already be paying 3 months rent arrears off. But unfortunately I will be unable to cover this licensing scheme tax as I would of already had to pull out lots of money without any rent coming in, and maybe not even getting this lost rent back. I don’t expect our councils will give us a break or shock horror free council tax on empty properties, I think these properties will be standing empty for a while as tenants either won’t want to move or couldn’t afford to move into a new property in these uncertain times we now find ourselves in. I have two empty properties at the moment one in the middle of a refurbishment and one I will have back early next month. I was thinking of selling up before this crisis hit, but I will definitely be selling when hopefully the house prices recover after this crisis is over.

  • Where do landlords stand when they have invested a lifetime of savings into rental properties with no mortgages? But the rent is there only income.

    • Sid

      I have concerns that landlords such as myself have invested in property for retirement income and will not be compensated. Tenants could be a lot better off when this is all over with Landlords left with bills and debts to pay where their only source of income is rental income.

    • We shall see how tenants react to the Government’s generosity as we progress through the three month’s holiday that has been offered to those in difficulty as a result of many businesses being closed down.
      There has to be a strong disincentive to tenants choosing not to pay their rent despite having their own private means or housing benefit. I think there could be a temptation now that the ultimate sanction of eviction following prolonged delinquency, has been removed.

  • What about landlords who have worked very hard For years to pay off their mortgage debt and are finally mortgage free, but will now through no fault of theirs inevitably lose rents from coronavirus that will never be recouped? Why should they be penalized by not getting any relief/compensation (upon presentation of requisite evidence of loss of rents) just because through hard work they have no mortgage obligations? After paying their burden of taxes each year, it is patently unfair For them to be left ‘holding the bag’.

  • I feel a 3 month freeze on eviction action & non-payment of rent is a tenants charter to misbehave.

    They will never find the cash to make up the loss & will have pocketed the Housing Benefit!

    Whereas the landlord will have to find the unpaid mortgage holiday monies.
    Pocketing of HB is not a crime & they cannot be punished for it.

    How many tenants will up & leave when the 3 months is over with no forwarding address to avoid paying

    If Gov wants to retain the private sector of social housing they have to offer better. Too many of us have grey hair & are in the at risk group.

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