Following our article about rent holidays and rent strikes yesterday, private tenants are not due a rent holiday during the coronavirus crisis, according to a government peer.

Independent Lord Taylor of Warwick asked a written question in the Lords about a rent break for tenants impacted by the pandemic outbreak.

Responding for the government, Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, ruled the measure out for the time being.

She said: “Emergency legislation has been taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.

“As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation need to be concerned about the threat of eviction.

“As such, the government does not believe a rent holiday is necessary at this stage.”

The announcement has no bearing on the three-month mortgage repayment holiday for landlords with tenants in financial difficulty due to coronavirus.

“Recognising the additional pressures the virus may put on landlords, we have confirmed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday is extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus,” said Housing Minister Robert Jenrick.

“This will alleviate the pressure on landlords, who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and will mean no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result.

“At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.”

Emergency legislation has also put eviction proceedings on hold for the duration of the outbreak in a bid to ensure that no one is evicted from their home because of coronavirus.

An article on the AnthonyGold blog also provides the opinion that tenants, in particular students, who may want to give up their tenancy early can’t do so unless with the agreement of the landlord or some other means contained in the tenancy.

The article discusses Force Majeure contractual terms (not present in Guild agreements) and also the doctrine of frustration. The article which is well worth a read, summarises the position well:

… where they are part-way through a fixed-term contract, they are unlikely to be able to rely on frustration or a force majeure clause to end their tenancy early. This is because their decision to move back home is a personal decision and the accommodation is still available for them. The fact that university campus buildings may be closed, and teaching may have temporarily ceased does not affect the performance of the tenancy …