Property management for landlords: the rights and responsibilities of a landlord during lockdown

26/11/2020

Property management: What are your rights and responsibilities as a landlord during lockdown?

Whether in a global crisis or not, being a landlord comes with a host of responsibilities. And this can result in uncertainty, extra admin and unnecessary pressure, which is best managed by knowing what to expect.

There has been a lot of uncertainty for both tenants and landlords about what they can and can’t do, what happens to repairs and whether full rent is still due. This is why we’ve created a list of the rights and responsibilities for a landlord, to successfully navigate the ever-changing lockdown landscape.

Property management for landlords during lockdown: Frequently asked questions

Landlords can be painted as the good or bad guys when there is economic uncertainty. And with much heat in the landlord’s proverbial kitchen, we want you to give a big sigh of relief as you flip through the FAQ’s below.

We’ve detailed some clear guidelines on what’s next for you and your property.

As a landlord, should I stop charging rent during the pandemic?

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, as each tenant’s circumstances are different, and some will be worse affected than others. Landlords are not legally required to adjust their rental agreements. Most tenants should be able to pay rent as they remain liable for it. Read further government guidelines for the most updated information.

My property will soon be empty, will tenants still be able to move in?

The government has amended the COVID-19 regulations to ensure that people who wish to move home, can do so. Read the government’s revised guidelines on moving home during this period.

The process of finding and moving into a new home will differ from tenant to tenant as those involved in the process will have to adapt practices and procedures to ensure the risk of the spread of the virus is reduced as far as possible.

What about access to a property to conduct viewings?

House viewings can still proceed throughout the country under new national restrictions, which came into effect on 5 November 2020, provided these are undertaken in line with the public health advice and relevant COVID-19 legislation. Read the new local restrictions here.

I want to reduce rent for my tenant – will this breach the deposit cap?

If you want to offer your tenant a rent reduction, there’s no need to repay part of the deposit immediately – the deposit cap imposed by the Tenant Fees Act 2019 is linked to initial rent levels.

If I have served a Section 21 Notice to my tenants – how long is the notice valid for?

Previously, a Section 21 notice to take possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy, would require a two months’ notice period. The Government has temporarily changed the rules around using a Section 21 notice during COVID-19.

Where a landlord gives a tenant a valid Section 21 notice after 28 August 2020, the notice will remain valid for an extended period:

  • As of 28 August 2020 any section 21 notice served in England must give at least six months notice to the tenant. 
  • The notice period for Section 8 can be much shorter depending on the grounds used.

For more detailed information, read about the Section 21 notice updates here.

What does the current situation mean for repairs to my property?

Tenants still have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live – and it is in the best interest of both parties to ensure the property is kept in good repair. Also read the government’s guidelines on working safely during COVID-19.

The property landscape is constantly changing, and if 2020 taught us anything, it’s to be willing to adapt to change. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a landlord will go a long way to secure not only your valuable assets but also for your peace of mind.

Image credit: Photo by Bethany Opler on Unsplash.

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