The new measures seek to provide support for both residential and commercial tenants during these unprecedented times. It enacted a series of provisions which restrict landlord’s regaining possession of both residential and commercial property during the Coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of the changes, it is not possible to obtain or enforce a possession order i.e. no action can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted, until the end of June 2020 at the earliest.
Our experience over the last week is that court hearings in current possession proceedings have been adjourned and, presumably, will be re-listed in due course after the suspension is lifted. Inevitably, this is causing issues for landlords with existing claims which are entirely unconnected with Coronavirus and pre-date the new legislation.
Preventing all possession proceedings also potentially raises difficulties for landlords who have genuine concerns about protecting neighbours from anti-social and/or criminal behaviour of tenants, which are entirely different from the need to protect tenants from financial difficulties caused as a result of Coronavirus.
As a result of the changes, commercial tenants who fail to pay some or all of the rent in the next 3 months will not face the risk of the immediate termination of their leases.
The new legislation does not prevent landlord’s taking other enforcement options, including the ability to commence court proceedings to recover the monies owed or Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR).
Although the above provisions give some comfort to both residential and commercial tenants, it does not resolve the huge issue of rent arrears caused as a result of Coronavirus – let’s hope that it does not simply result in huge wave of possession actions down the line.
From a practical perspective, if you are struggling, it is important that you contact your landlord as soon as possible to discuss the options, which might include agreeing some flexibility in the time for paying your rent and/or the amount of rent payable during this period.
Hopefully, in these turbulent economic times, there will be a greater trend for cooperation between landlords and tenants to help both get through what is inevitably going to be a very difficult period ahead.
If you need help or guidance please contact Rebecca Turnbull-Simpson, Solicitor and Partner by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nigel Targett, Solicitor and Partner by email at email@example.com.