The British Landlords Association continues to urge its members, through the COVID-19 period, to support NHS workers by offering free accommodation. Other members with existing NHS renters are requested to support their tenants too.
Most landlords will not be able to help. However, some will and have the financial grace to do so.
Some BLA members have risen to the call, with compassion and given NHS workers rent-free accommodation.
Dr William Masih, Director of the British Landlords Association, said: “I am appalled at the conditions some of our NHS workers are working under. They are putting there lives at risk, for our sakes. For example, the hospital in Surrey over 800 workers are off ill. They had no PPE and now are running very low again. Some staff have to wear suits, masks and goggles and struggle in theatre to speak or breathe properly.
COVID-19 rent holiday confusing some tenants
It would seem some tenants are confused regarding the rent situation.
Mrs Helen Cartwright from the British Landlords Association said: “Our helpline has been busy, non-stop. It would seem from the conversations we have with our members, they are concerned about defaulting renters. Some renters wrongly believe the Government is going to pay landlords mortgage; hence they, in turn, do not need to pay the rent”.
She added: This is incorrect, landlords struggling to pay the mortgage, can request a three month mortgage holiday. This does not mean the lender will write off the mortgage. Renters need to continue to pay the rent. Most landlords just like lenders, will not write-off rent that is due. Where a renter cannot pay, they may be entitled to claim benefits so they can continue to service the rent”.
“The confusion seems to around the word “Holiday”. Holiday in this context means the unpaid mortgage will be added to the debt, and the landlord will have to pay it back, with interest”. She said.
The BLA members helpline has been very busy since the COVID-19 outbreak. The association members helpline is now open seven days to cope with the volume of calls.
Need for compassion towards struggling renter
In a drive for Government to protect renters from eviction, amongst other problems, the Coronavirus Act, 2020 was introduced.
The Government has made the situation clear homeowners, landlords and tenants will need to continue to pay mortgages and rents.
There is help for renters, who cannot pay rent. Landlords will not be able to evict for three months, and even this period can be extended if required.
Once a landlord can go to court for rent arrears, with the focus on eviction, tenants will have the legal burden to explain why the rent was not paid?COVID-19 rent arrears landlords need to consider all alternative option before court action Click To Tweet
Court intervention should be the last resort
Where landlords have the financial means, they should treat renters with compassion, and court action is always the last resort.
Mr Sasha Charles, the CEO of Landlord Advice UK, said “for assured shorthold tenancies, the Government may introduce a protocol like the ones social landlords are required to use currently.
He added: ” If the protocol is introduced, we welcome this move, it will highlight the plight of some renters, who genuinely cannot afford to pay. In these cases, the landlord without the intervention of the court may settle the matter by consent.”
“The protocol is an aid, to see those who can pay and those who don’t want to”. He said.
Landlord Advice UK has published a comprehensive free COVID-19 booklet for Homeowners, renters and landlords which can be downloaded here.
Source: British Landlords Association
Author: Sarah Featherstone
Date: 16th of April 2020
Join The British Landlords Association, membership is free.