Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that private renters will be protected against eviction while the coronavirus outbreak continues.
With quarantine measures and illness likely to force many people out of work in the coming weeks, new legislation is to be introduced to prevent this from leaving those unable to pay their rent homeless.
The legislation is expected to pass through Westminster and be consented to by Holyrood within the coming week.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new legislation.
How will the new legislation protect renters?
On Wednesday 18 March, a statement on the government’s website announced “The government has announced a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.”
The emergency legislation will prevent landlords from beginning the proceedings to evict tenants for at least the next three months. This applies to both renters in social and private accommodation.“As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction” the statement says.
The new legislation will also widen the “pre-action protocol” on possession proceedings to include private renters – meaning that private landlords looking to begin possession proceedings will have to engage with their tenants more extensively first.
Landlords will also be encouraged to “show compassion” and to allow tenants that have been affected by the coronavirus to remain in their homes “wherever possible.”
At his daily coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday 18 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“We will want to protect people who face difficulties through no fault of their own. You cannot penalise people for doing the right thing nor can you penalise people when you have an economic upset that is the direct result of the Government’s actions, advice that is intended to protect the public.”
How will the new legislation protect landlords?
The knock-on effect of people being unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus is that many landlords will see their income reduced.
The government previously announced a three month “mortgage payment holiday” which allows those who bought their property to postpone making payments on their mortgage for the next three months.
On Wednesday 18 March, it was announced that this measure would be extended to landlords whose tenants have been impacted by the coronavirus.
“This will alleviate the pressure on landlords” the statement on the government’s website says, “who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and will mean no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result.”
In response to the new legislation, Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords association said “Landlord groups welcomes government support. We recognise the exceptional circumstances and we will work collaboratively with government to ensure these measures protect both landlords and tenants.”
What happens after the three-month period?
According to the government’s current statement, once this period is over “landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.”