Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action and star of a Channel 5 programme on evictions, says he fully backs the extended notice period required for possession during the Coronavirus outbreak.
From the end of last week, the emergency Coronavirus Act extended the notice period required for possession using Section 8 and Form 6a (Section 21) from two months to three months.
“I have worked with landlords for 27 years, been through two recessions and seen the crippling effect that falling into rent arrears can have both on landlords and tenants” says Shamplina.
“My number one piece of advice is ALWAYS communication and now, more than ever, I am urging landlords to work with their tenants. Pick up the phone, drop an email, send a text, reach out to see how they are affected by this crisis and similarly explain how it is affecting you.
“Given the scale of the crisis we find ourselves in, no tenant should be evicted as a result of being affected by Covid-19.”
He says that he accepts some in the industry are concerned that the Act - previously thought to completely ban evictions for the next three months - does not formally prevent landlords from serving a notice of intention to possess.
Instead it only extends the notice period that a landlord is required to serve on a tenant from two months to three months.
“However, I would point out that ongoing cases are already being adjourned, court buildings are closing, and evictions cancelled.
“[Last week] the London Bailiff Centre contacted us [at Landlord Action] to say all evictions in March and April have been postponed and we have even had Section 21 possession claims sent back to us in the post. In reality, landlords may not be gaining possession of their property until the end of the year because of the new legislation change and delays to the court system, so I would advise landlords to work with their tenants as much as possible”
He also makes a plea to tenants to realise that the vast majority of landlords are small-scale owners with one or two properties. Their ability to prop tenants up will be limited too, especially if their own circumstances have changed.
“The new measures do not end a tenant’s liability for rental payments, just as a mortgage holiday for landlords does not exempt them from repaying the bank, it simply delays it” continues Shamplina.
“That is why it is in the best interests of all tenants and landlords to work together, understand each other’s limitations and establish a reasonable payment and review plan when the time is right.”