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.”
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