Coronavirus: PM confirms renters will be protected against eviction

The government has promised to protect renters who have been affected by coronavirus. Picture: Getty

The government has promised to protect renters who have been affected by coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to coronavirus will be protected against eviction, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

Emergency government legislation will stop landlords from beginning eviction proceedings for at least a three-month period to “protect people who face difficulties through no fault of their own”.

Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said the legislation to protect tenants in both private and social accommodation will be taken forward “as an urgent priority”.

The three-month mortgage holiday already promised to property owners affected by Covid-19 will now be extended to buy-to-let mortgage borrowers whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to the virus.

When this period comes to an end, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish a repayment plan based on the tenants’ individual circumstances.

Robert Jenrick said: “The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.

“These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage. Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.

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“These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.”

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said this new legislation would “come as a great relief to many people.

“Without this decisive action, tens of thousands of renters would have been faced with eviction in the coming months, while potentially trying to isolate and protect themselves and others.”

One local agent felt the government’s measures may be excessive, however.

Jeremey Godfrey, director of lettings at Putterills, who have offices across Hertfordshire, said: “In our view it would be better for the decision to be made between the landlord, agent and tenant so we can have an open negotiation rather than having anything imposed on us.

“Good, responsible letting agents would rather have an open discussion and be able to manoeuvre rent - to come to some sort of compromise and negotiate reductions - rather than just stopping it altogether.”

He noted that professional letting agents should have rent guarantee policies in place to offer some protection to both sides.

“Our opinion is that landlords locally are already being practical and responsible,” he added.