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Covid: Tips for landlords on preparing for pandemic problems

Insurance firm CIA Landlord is offering advice to landlords on how to prepare for five likely problems to appear this winter because of Coronavirus.

The firm’s operations manager, Richard Wayman, says that while landlords are being urged to give their tenants leeway, tenants are still required to pay rent or at least as much as they can manage.

His tips are:


1. Consider rent deferment: “One way a landlord can work with tenants who can’t afford to pay their full rent is through a process called rent deferment. This means the tenant is allowed not to pay rent for a certain period but then to pay the amount that has been deferred by equal monthly instalments over a specified period, by means of additional rent” explains Wayman. “When choosing to defer or reduce rent for a tenant for a set period to avoid tenant insolvency, it is important to leave clear documentation of this, to avoid issues further down the line.”

2. Consider rent abatement: “Rent abatement is an agreement between a landlord and tenant that provides a period of free rent for the tenant and often lasts a period of few months. Rent abatement differs to rent deferment as while the tenant is also not obliged to pay any rent during the period, there is no obligation for the tenant to pay the rent at a later date. This is a temporary adjustment to the lease and although a tenant paying no rent is an inconvenience, paying service charges, bills and other outgoings or whatever rent they can afford it is better than an empty house during the crisis.” 

3. Dealing with a defaulting tenant: Wayman believes that even if a tenant is defaulting a landlord should continue to perform under the lease. He says: ”It’s important to record in writing all interactions they have with the tenant and be able to show how they have tried to help the situation. Although landlords’ rights are deferred, they are not taken away. Courts have equitable powers that they can use at their discretion So when a landlord is seen to be attempting to make reasonable accommodations for a tenant and the tenant refuses to make any concessions to the landlord this can mean the landlord succeeds in a future legal action.”


4. Identify other opportunities: “Tenants that were in financial trouble prior to the Covid-19 pandemic are unlikely to improve significantly over the coming months, which makes landlords more liable to cover their debts. While it may not be the best time for finding a replacement tenant, removing a tenant that is problematic can give you time to fix any existing issues in the property and spruce up the space.” He suggests landlords could undertake DIY work to increase the home’s value by thousands and make it more desirable to potential tenants. 

5. Communicate with tenants to resolve Issues: “While a wide range of private tenants have faced furlough or job loss, and paying rent has becoming a daunting prospect, ensuring there is clear communication between landlords and tenants during these unprecedented times can avoid any hostility between both parties and improve your chances of preventing a vacant property or avoiding legal action.”

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    The above is all very well and good in theory, but not always in practice, while there are tenants that would honor their side of such agreements their are many that would not and just take advantage .

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    Of course there are good and bad tenants. Like there are good and bad landlords. But this does not stop the advice being offered above from being generally good advice.

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    Most landlords want to engage with problem tenants. The problem is usually that those tenants don't want to engage with landlords.

    If I had an ongoing commitment for something I couldn't afford I would want that commitment to end ASAP. I wouldn't just stop paying and think that was a reasonable course of action.

    Most landlords would be quite happy to waive any remaining term of the tenancy and accept the deposit as full and final settlement in exchange for the tenant leaving the property promptly and in good condition.

    No trashing of the tenant's credit rating or harming the tenant's chance of securing a more affordable home as early as possible in return for no trashing of the landlord's property or harming the chance of securing a more suitable tenant as early as possible.

    That sounds like a win win to me.

    Why are so many lefties so keen on a lose-lose outcome?

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    • 27 October 2020 16:07 PM

    I have no intention of engaging with defaulting tenants.
    I consider them as thieves and rogues.
    As soon as there is default, in goes the eviction paperwork and CCJ's

    Luvverly Jubbly....


    I would always give them the chance to leave immediately while the deposit was still sufficient to cover the overdue rent.

    If they declined my offer then they would end up out with a trashed credit rating, but I have only had to do this once in around 300 tenancies over the years. Guarantors are usually quite keen to preserve their credit ratings.


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