Landlord Letters for Coronavirus Pandemic and Other Emergencies

April 2020

Many businesses and individuals are experiencing financial difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic. With some companies unable to trade and many people experiencing a drop in income, landlords of both commercial and residential properties may find that their tenants are unable to pay the rent on time or in full.

To take the pressure off tenants, the government has placed a moratorium on forfeiture proceedings for commercial leases until 30 June and has extended the minimum notice period for residential possession claims from 2 months to 3 months for claims made up to 30 September.

Most landlords will not, in any case, wish to evict their tenants during the pandemic. It will be in landlords’ interests to help tenants weather the storm so that normal trading can resume once the lockdown is lifted.

Landlords may also face other issues during this pandemic or during other cases of emergency. Emergency laws or government guidance may mean that changes need to be made to the way in which property is managed. It may not be possible to provide services to tenanted property in the same way as normal, perhaps because social distancing rules make it impossible to provide certain facilities. Landlords may need temporarily to close parts of a building or, in an extreme case, to close an entire building. Residential tenants may have to work from home, even though their tenancy agreement prohibits this.

The new Emergency Management Letters for both commercial and residential landlords are designed to help landlords address these issues. They cover rent concessions and other temporary changes to tenancy arrangements. They can be used during the current pandemic but are also suitable for other emergency situations.

The documents relating to possession proceedings under Section 8 and Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 have been amended to reflect the extended notice period.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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