Understandably, the current situation is a concerning time for both landlords and tenants of residential and commercial property. Rent can be one of the biggest outgoings for a business or an individual, and with the UK in lockdown tenants may be struggling to meet rent payments.
Support for landlords and tenants during Covid-19
Primarily the government are encouraging landlords and tenants to work together where tenants are unable to pay rent, to agree a rent payment scheme. This may be a reduced or zero rent for say 3 months and then increased catch up payments for the following months, or they may ask to pay quarterly rent on a monthly basis etc.Ultimately tenants are still liable for the rent and they should be looking to the government initiatives for support to enable them to meet the payments (job retention, self-employed income grant scheme, business interruption loan scheme etc).
If there is borrowing in place on the property in question, the landlord can request a mortgage holiday from their lender to ease cashflow whilst no rent is being received. Ultimately the payments will still be due but this will be spread over the remaining term of the mortgage.
In extreme circumstances the landlord may want to remove the tenant. However, the government announced that no individual or business can be forced out of their premises until at least 30 June 2020, even if they miss payment(s) of rent. This is part of the Coronavirus Bill. In addition, landlords are prevented from enforcing existing possession orders between the day after the Bill becomes law, and 30 June 2020. Landlords may want to take legal advice as to what steps they can take to recover unpaid rent.
The government have issued guidance for both landlords and tenants which covers some frequently asked questions, including guidance on property access and health and safety obligations during this time. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak