The government’s temporary ban on evictions which was due to expire on 31st March has been extended to 31st May. The new legislation, included in the Coronavirus Act, was put in place to assist residential and commercial tenants who found themselves in financial difficulty due to the Coronavirus pandemic. During this time, landlords can serve eviction notices and courts can grant eviction orders, but court bailiffs are not permitted to carry out evictions (except in for the most serious circumstances such as an existing eviction order relating to anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse). Whilst the government has issued advice for landlords and tenants regarding the eviction ban, it has left many landlords and tenants concerned about what the impact will be on them and wondering what their rights are. We spoke to our Landlord and Tenant team about some of their most frequently asked questions.
What is a lease?
A lease is an agreement or deed granting a tenant a right to occupy for a period of time, then exchange for rent monies.
What do I do if a tenant becomes unable to pay their rent due to the pandemic?
Consider what security is held. For example, whether you can call on a rent deposit, or a personal guarantee.
Consider a side letter agreement setting out a deferred payment arrangement for the tenant.
Has the tenant breached any other (non-monetary) terms of the lease?
Our specialist landlord and tenant solicitors will be able to offer some further advice if a tenant has missed payments and you would like to discuss your rights and possible next steps
Would I be entitled to a rent-free period due to the pandemic?
No, there is no automatic entitlement. An agreement would need to be reached with a landlord.
What is a section 25 notice?
A notice served by a landlord either offering terms for a new lease or objecting to the grant of a new lease, at the end of the fixed term period of the tenancy.
What are my rights as a landlord during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Contractual rights under the lease are retained. However, enforcement of those rights are currently restricted due to COVID -19 laws.
Landlords can charge contract or statutory interest for late payments, and recover costs for an enforcement action, if the lease permits.
Does the Coronavirus act 2020 protect tenants?
Yes, a tenant cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent or other monies.
What do I need to do to evict a tenant?
Breach of non-monetary terms of the lease can still be enforced by forfeiture clauses under the lease as long as the correct procedures are followed.
What action should I take if the tenant has damaged the property?
Obtain evidence of disrepair. Obtain a schedule of disrepair. Serve a section 146 Law of Property Act 1925 notice of breach. Our landlord and tenant team will be able to advise you on the correct procedures and your legal rights.
There was no written tenancy agreement in place, am I still able to get your advice?
Yes, a tenancy can still exist in equity.
The tenant owes me hundreds of pounds in unpaid rent, what can I do?
You can use and call on existing forms of security such as rent deposits and personal guarantees to reduce the arrears.
Charge interest on rent arrears and seek costs of any action taken to recover the arrears.
Debt or breach of lease proceedings may still be commenced against the tenant.
Specialist Landlord and Tenant Solicitors
If you would like to speak to us regarding an issue raised in this article or have a current tenancy matter you would like advice on, our specialist landlord and tenant solicitors based in Portsmouth and Waterlooville can help. We will explain all the options available to you and guide you through the process every step of the way. So whether you are simply seeking advice regarding a tenancy lease or if you have a dispute with your landlord or tenant, we have the expertise and experience to assist you with your landlord and tenant matters whatever they are.
Get in Touch
To speak with one of our specialist landlord and tenant team please call on 023 9244 8100 or make an online enquiry You can also contact one of the team directly by clicking on the links below:
Richard Hopgood on firstname.lastname@example.org