Coronavirus: Everything you need to know if you’re a buy-to-let landlord
Coronavirus is having a huge financial impact on many buy-to-let landlords, with large numbers of tenants currently unable to pay their rent.
OnTheMarket looks at how buy-to-let landlords can stay in control of their situation during lockdown.
What if my tenant can’t pay their rent because of coronavirus?
If your tenant is unable to pay their rent because their income has fallen or stopped altogether as a result of coronavirus, you’ll need to sit down and come to some sort of financial arrangement with them.
While they are still legally required to pay their rent, it’s important that landlords try to offer support wherever possible.
Options you might want to consider are either pausing or reducing their rent payments temporarily and agreeing that they can make up any payments they’ve missed once the crisis is over.
Alternatively, you might want to consider a three-month buy-to-let mortgage payment holiday, so that your tenant can stop paying rent for this period, and you don’t have to worry about your mortgage not being paid.
Bear in mind that if you take a mortgage payment holiday, your payments are being deferred rather than written off, so when they resume, your monthly costs will be higher.
If you decide to take a payment holiday, contact your lender to arrange it. Do not cancel your direct debit before you’ve done this, or it could affect your credit score.
What if I need to take possession of my buy-to-let property?
The Coronavirus Act 2020 stipulates that until 30 September this year, you must give your tenants three months’ notice before you can begin possession proceedings. You can give more than three months’ notice if you want to.
What if I’ve already started possession proceedings?
Housing possession cases have been suspended for a 90-day period from March 27, so if you’ve already issued your tenants with a possession notice, you shouldn’t ask them to leave your property until this period is up.
What if the property I let out needs repairs during coronavirus lockdown?
Landlords must by law provide tenants with a safe place to live, so if any urgent repairs are needed, this will need to be carried out.
For example, if the roof is leaking, or the boiler is broken leaving tenants without heating or hot water, or if there is a broken window or external door which makes the property vulnerable to burglars, these issues should be resolved as soon as possible.
It’s important that precautions are taken to keep tenants and contractors safe when they are visiting, so they should try to remain in separate rooms while work is carried out, and to follow government advice on hygiene and cleanliness.
If non-urgent changes to the property are requested by your tenants, such as redecorating, discuss putting this work on hold until lockdown restrictions are eased.
If I don’t currently have tenants, can I conduct viewings of my property?
The Government has not issued any specific guidance on viewings of empty properties, but has advised people against moving home wherever possible.
If you’ve already agreed to let your home and it’s not possible to change your tenant’s moving in date due to contractual reasons, advice on maintaining strict separation should be followed to help reduce the chances of the virus being spread.
OnTheMarket has a dedicated page for coronavirus information and advice.
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