A new set of guidelines has been suggested for landlords amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The nine so-called ‘golden rules’ are designed to help landlords with rent disputes.
The rules include landlords helping tenants to access financial advice and support if they’re struggling to pay the rent.
They also suggest that landlords should use guarantors and rent repayment schedules.
What’s more, the guidelines include advice about access to mediation services and a warning to landlords to keep written copies of all communication with tenants.
Keeping such a record can help prove that efforts have been made to support tenants, if the case ends up going to court.
It follows the six-month ban on tenant evictions being lifted earlier this month.
Landlords can now legally begin court proceedings against tenants for claims such as rent arrears.
However, as part of court proceedings, landlords must include additional information about their claims, such as how a tenant has been affected by the pandemic.
Judges are able to adjourn cases where this information isn’t provided.
The ‘golden rules’ aren’t legally binding but have been drawn up by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) as a way to help landlords sustain their tenancies.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “Despite the courts opening up again, it does not mean that repossessions are an inevitable consequence where tenants and landlords have struggled due to Covid-19.
“The golden rules provide all the advice needed to sustain tenancies – but it is incumbent on both parties to speak to each other.
“That said we remain concerned that the expectation for landlords – the majority of whom are not property tycoons – is to go without rent for anything up to a year before such cases are deemed a priority.
“Such a position is not sustainable, especially as there is almost no chance of the rent arrears being recouped.”
Tenants and landlords need to discuss any unpaid rent as soon as possible. Landlords need to understand how tenants have been affected by coronavirus, and how a payment plan can help to repay those arrears.
Establish whether the tenant may be considered vulnerable – if they’re disabled or a single parent, for example – as local authorities may also give advice.
Seek to agree an affordable payment plan, based on the tenant’s circumstances.
Landlords should provide clear rent statements for three-month periods – or 13-week periods, if rent is paid weekly – showing any temporary reductions in rent or deferred payments.
Where the tenant is claiming benefits, see if it’s possible for the payment of any housing element to the landlord.
If there’s a guarantor in place, actively involve them in discussions with tenants regarding payment of rent.
If you can’t initially agree, an independent mediator could help resolve your differences without the time and cost of taking a possession case to court.
Landlords should keep copies of all documentation and a record of all contact with tenants, and give this information to the court should proceedings be necessary.
What do you think about these nine rules for landlords? Let us know in the comments below.
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