Buy-to-let under threat from coronavirus disruption: What tenants and landlords can do when rent is a problem
- Five million households in the private rented sector could be affected by virus
- Prime Minister promises to protect renters from eviction while crisis unfolds
- Landlords report that tenants are already struggling to pay
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Tenants are already struggling to pay rent among the coronavirus outbreak, reports have confirmed.
Around five million households in the UK live in private rented accommodation and many of these could struggle to pay the bills if they need to take time off work.
And landlords report they are already seeing cases of tenants unable to pay rent because of the outbreak.
The news comes as the Prime Minister today promised to protect renters from eviction if their income is hit as the pandemic spreads throughout the country.
Landlords are already reporting cases of tenants unable to pay rent because of the outbreak
Angus Stewart, chief executive of buy-to-let mortgage broker Property Master, said: ‘It is early days but we are already hearing from landlords who have tenants saying they will be late with rent payments or who may not be able to pay their rent at all.
‘There are reports of tenants whose working hours have been reduced or who work for overseas companies that do not appear to be currently trading.’
Ministers had been under pressure to help millions of less well-paid workers after Rishi Sunak announced a three-month mortgage holiday to help homeowners yesterday.
The Prime Minister said today: ‘I can indeed confirm that we will be bringing forward legislation to protect private renters from eviction.
‘That is one thing we will do, but it is also important as we legislate that we do not simply pass on the problem so we’ll also be taking steps to protect other actors in the economy.’
Rachael Payne, housing welfare solicitor at law firm CEL Solicitors, said: ‘The Government has clearly got a difficult job on its hands and the situation is changing by the day, as we know.
‘There is already a major lack of protection for those renting their homes and the current situation adds another layer to the issue – more clarity and detail on what this support will include and who will be eligible is needed as soon as possible to mitigate impact.’
Labour has called for measures to prevent tenants being evicted if they can’t pay the rent
I’m a tenant, what should I do?
Rachael Gore, senior housing expert at Citizens Advice, has this advice for tenants who are worred about coronavirus: ‘If you’re struggling to pay rent, talk to your landlord straight away.
Citizens Advice housing expert Rachael Gore
‘You should explain the situation and could ask for more time to pay or ask to catch up any missed payments by instalments.
‘If you can’t come to an agreement with your landlord, it’s a good idea to pay what you can afford and keep a record of what you offered.
‘You should get advice if you can’t reach an agreement because there is a risk that your landlord might try to evict you. In most cases, they’d have to give you notice and get a court order in order to make you leave.
‘If your income is reduced because of coronavirus, you should check whether you’re entitled to sick pay or to claim benefits. If you’re already on existing benefits, these might also increase. Check your eligibility for both sick pay and benefits on the Citizens Advice website.’
Landlords are worried they won’t be able to pay their mortgage
Matthew Lauchlan, 53, is a portfolio landlord with properties across the UK including holiday lets in the UK and overseas.
He has been landlord for 30 years and most of his current properties are mortgaged.
Matthew said: ‘Holiday bookings have really dropped off at the moment as people put any travel and vacation plans on hold.
‘But what I am even more worried about is that I am now being contacted by tenants who for one reason or another as a result of the coronavirus are not being paid.
‘They are letting me know that this means they’re going to struggle to pay the rent. If that happens on any kind of scale it could have a knock-on effect on my mortgage repayments.
‘Being a larger landlord will help me spread the risk but that will not be so easy for small landlords with just one or two properties.
‘I plan to talk to my lenders as soon as possible so they are up to speed with what I am seeing. I am hoping they can work with me to find some sort of long-term solution as no-one knows how long this situation will continue.’
This week landlord trade bodies put out a joint statement calling on Government and mortgage lenders to look lenders ‘look sympathetically on requests by landlords for mortgage payment holidays where their income is being affected through reduced or non-payment of rent.’