Millions of tenants are likely to see their jobs and incomes decimated by coronavirus as businesses are likely to be ordered to shut up shop to stem the spread of the infection.
The situation is very fluid at the moment and we are awaiting guidance about renters from the Government which we will update on the website when known.
Landlords face a double-whammy of lost income as tenants stop paying rent but mortgage lenders still expect payment.
Some big brands have already gone to the wall with thousands of job losses.
Fashion chain Laura Ashley is teetering on the brink of administration with 2,700 jobs under threat at 150 UK stores. The firm has carried cash troubles for a while with a £14 million loss last year and has seen sales plunge due to coronavirus.
Technology store Carphone Warehouse – part of the Dixons group – is closing 531 stores outside larger PcWorld and Curry’s locations with 2,900 redundancies from April 3.
Many banks have already agreed to sympathetically treat borrowers by deferring mortgage repayments for up to three months.
But the policy does not generally extend to buy to let loans, although some banks may consider helping landlords on a case-by-case basis.
Landlord associations suggest landlords should come to a financial arrangement with tenants that allows them to catch up later if they have a good payment history.
It’s a good idea to collect evidence of financial problems from the tenant to show to mortgage lenders.
Evidence should include pay slips, letters from employers, a P45 notice and any written rent deferment agreement with a landlord.
Tenants may qualify for statutory sick pay of £94.25 a week, although this currently excludes the self-employed, who would have to apply for universal credit.
In some cases rent guarantee insurance may cover missed payments, but the outcome depends on the small print of the policy.
Dealing with urgent repairs
Another issue is urgent repairs to rental properties as tenants may be self-isolating or reluctant to allow tradesmen into their homes.
Again, a sympathetic approach is needed by landlords who may face breaking strict fire and health safety rules, especially in shared homes.
Landlords should keep a written log of repair reports and action taken to remedy the situation to show to enforcement authorities should the need arise.