New measures to protect renters

South Kesteven District Council is calling on landlords to follow new measures during the Coronavirus pandemic which aim to protect renters, ensure they have a decent place to live, and provide clarity for landlords.

The Government has brought forward a support package which means that most tenants in either social or private accommodation will be protected and not forced out of their home during the pandemic.

However, the measures are clear that there is also a responsibility on renters to work with their landlords more than ever during these difficult times and to seek help sooner rather than later if problems arise.

Leader of SKDC, Cllr Kelham Cooke, said: "It has never been more important than in these difficult times that landlords and tenants take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to resolving issues. Tenants should let their landlords know early if there is a problem and landlords should take the appropriate action and adhere to the new measures.

"Most tenancies work very well, and we continue to support the positive partnership that exists between the majority of landlords and tenants. But there is a need for new measures to provide clarity for all, as we work our way through this unprecedented period."

Landlords now have to give all renters three months' notice if they intend to seek possession (serve notice that they want to end the tenancy). This will apply until 30 September and both the end point, and the three-month notice period, can be extended if needed.

Any possession claims in the system or about to go into the system will now be affected by 90-day suspension of possession hearings and orders. At the expiry of the three-month notice, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave their home without a court order. 

For landlords, this will mean not expecting tenants to move even where they have already issued notice of their intention to regain possession of the property, or if they go on to issue notice for any reason during the next three months.

Cllr Cooke said: "Tenants are still liable to abide by the terms of their tenancy agreement and should pay their rent as usual. If they face financial hardship and struggle with this, support is available.

"In the first instance they should speak to their landlord if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment, but they must remember that the rent amount agreed in the tenancy agreement is legally due."

Landlords repair obligations have not changed even though routine inspections may now be more difficult. They will, however, not be unfairly penalised, and are advised to document all attempts and correspondence with their tenants.

Where reasonable and in line with Government guidance, tenants should allow landlords or contractors access to the property to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues.