Landlords and tenants could face conflict over eviction holiday rules

Landlords and tenants could face conflict over eviction holiday rules
Mark Steggles, of Thomson Snell & Passmore

The measures were introduced following the Government’s announcement of a three-month mortgage holiday for homeowners facing financial difficulty during the coronavirus outbreak, to ensure renters had similar levels of protection.

But Mark Steggles, property dispute resolution lawyer and partner at Tunbridge Wells’ law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore said the rules for renters and landlords, which will halt proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period, will just shift conflict further down the road.

He said: “Responding to concerns about the impact this may have on landlords, the Government confirmed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday plans announced earlier in the week will now be extended to landlords whose tenants fall into the above category, such as landlords with buy-to-let mortgages.

“This avoids the financial pressure being passed from the tenant straight to the landlord, and is a shift in Government policy.”

But he added: “The purpose behind the legislation is to take the pressure off tenants who cannot afford to pay rent as a result of not receiving any income in the current climate.

He continued that while the measures will come as a relief to tenants: “This risks storing up trouble when this crisis is over, because the interests of the tenant, the landlord and the lender will conflict at that time.

“The obvious concern is that this doesn’t solve the issue – it simply pushes the issue down the road for three months.”

“To combat this, the Government suggests that the legislation will provide that after the three-month period has expired, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account the tenants’ individual circumstances.”

He also said that current possession proceedings that have already been issued are not covered by the rule changes, but the new moves may cause issues for landlords struggling to remove problem tenants.

“Even if possession orders are obtained, enforcing such orders may prove difficult,” he argued.

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