Coronavirus advice for tenants – top five tips
Coronavirus advice for tenants
Everyone continues to live in uncertain times awaiting some clarity as the effects of the ongoing Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic have made matters challenging for all. Whilst we wait for the worst to pass, tenants and landlords are anxious about how to ensure ends continue to meet and a roof remains over their heads.
The UK Government has made speedy interventions to assist tenants in the short term and stated:
‘’No renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts. This is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.” – Robert Jenrick MP, Housing Secretary
However, tenants cannot forget they continue to hold legal responsibilities to abide by their tenancy contracts.
If you’re a tenant concerned about your ability to pay rent on time or the vital upkeep of your home so that it remains a decent, warm and safe place to live, our recommendations are as follows:
Coronavirus advice for tenants – our top five tips
1. Make contact with your landlord directly
It’s never been more important to have direct communication with your landlord in order to maintain a good relationship. If you were using an agent, you can find your landlord’s contact details on your tenancy contract. Alternatively, you are within your rights to request them from the letting agent. We then recommend you have an open and honest conversation with your landlord to see what they are able and willing to do to assist you if you’re experiencing difficulty in making rent payments.
Note that your landlord may or may not have been granted a payment reduction or holiday by their mortgage provider. For many landlords, rent is their primary source of income so they may experience hardship themselves if tenants fail to pay rent. The implications of COVID-19 are no ones’ fault so we hope at times like these understanding and goodwill prevails for all parties.
2. Remember you are still bound by the terms of your contract
The current situation and the emergency Corona Virus Act 2020 will not have changed the fact that you and your landlord are still bound by the terms of your tenancy agreement. Until 30th September 2020, most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three months’ notice. However, the extension to service notice has only been extended to three months so your landlord is still able to serve you notice if required to do so.
3. Ensure all communication with your landlord is logged
Hopefully you will be able to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement with your landlord if normal rent payment terms cannot be met. This could take the form of a rent payment holiday or part payment for a given period of time. However, unless your landlord agrees otherwise, you are contractually bound to the agreed rent so may have to pay back rent owed in later instalments. Whatever is agreed, get this in writing and keep this alongside all other vital documentation relating to your tenancy including your tenancy agreement contract and valid house Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), gas safety inspection paperwork and from 1 July (already mandated for Houses in Multiple Occupation – HMOs) electrical safety inspection paperwork (EICR and in the case of HMOs – PAT as well).
4. Ensure your landlord knows immediately of any essential repairs needed at the property
During lockdown, the Government have recommended that no periodic property inspections, non-essential repairs or prospective tenant viewings are to take place. However, your landlord’s repair obligations have not changed. Essential repairs that relate to the safety and structural fabric of the property i.e. water supply or severe leaks, heating, sanitation, security i.e. front entrance or windows and essential white goods i.e. fridge, cooker, washing machine still need to be rectified with registered tradespeople counted as ‘essential services’. In the event of such emergencies you should not hesitate to inform your landlord – including if you are self-isolating or in an ‘at risk’ group. Registered tradespeople will have been briefed to adhere to safety protocols including social distancing and you do not need to be present when works are being carried out. Tenants who are living with serious hazards that a landlord has failed to remedy can still be assured of local authority support.
5. If you are unsure about your current position seek advice
The latest, regularly updated advice from the government can be found here
Alternatively, you can contact your local authority or Citizens Advice Bureau online or via their national Adviceline: 0344 411 1444. At the time of writing, most local Citizens Advice offices aren’t giving face to face advice to reduce the spread of the virus.
How can RentiD help?
Access to RentiD and our Digital Assistant app is free for tenants and is valuable even if you are already in tenancy being managed by a letting agent. From your smart phone or desktop computer, with RentiD you can:
• Make and maintain direct and secure communication with your landlord
• Store and access all your tenancy related documents in one place
• Report and track maintenance and repair issues and raise emergencies for rapid support 24/7
For more information visit our website here