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FAQs for landlords who manage their own tenancies

By Foxtons

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Our lettings support team is currently working hard to make sure all landlords who manage their own tenancies have access to support if needed. In order to help you find the answer you need as quickly as possible we have listed some of our most frequently asked questions below.

Click on the appropriate links below to jump directly to a topic.

Ending a tenancy before the end of your fixed term contract

Rental payments

Inspections and maintenance

Ending a tenancy before the end of your fixed term contract

My tenant would like to end the tenancy early as they’ve been financially impacted by Coronavirus, what should I do?

Even though the current situation is very concerning, there have not yet been any changes to the law regarding ending tenancies early due to Coronavirus. A tenant’s obligation to pay rent has not changed and there’s no automatic right to end the contract. However, all Government guidelines suggest landlords and tenants should communicate as soon as possible to see if a compromise can be reached about rental payments if tenants have been financially impacted by Coronavirus.

How do I know if I have a break clause?

Check your Tenancy Agreement to see if you have break clause, specifically clause 19.3. You can find your Tenancy Agreement in your My Foxtons account under the ‘documents’ section.

How much notice do I need to give my tenant if I would like them to vacate the property?

During the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK Government have amended English housing law and changed the notice period for landlords from 2 to 3 calendar months if they would like to regain possession of their property from a tenant.

Can my tenant end the tenancy early even if they do not have a break clause?

A tenant could request to end the Tenancy Agreement early, however they are likely to incur significant financial liabilities, including paying the rent, utilities, and other costs to you until new tenants are found. A tenant would also be liable to pay back to you the cost of any commissions you have paid to Foxtons for the remainder of the tenancy Please refer to your Tenancy Agreement, specifically clause 19.2 if you are considering this option. You can find your Tenancy Agreement in your My Foxtons account under the ‘documents’ section.

Rental payments

Does my tenant still have to pay the rent during the Coronavirus pandemic?

We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for landlords and tenants. As it stands all rent is due as normal, however, the Government has been very clear that it expects landlords to offer support and understanding to tenants who have been impacted by Coronavirus and who have seen their income fluctuate. Similarly, it has advised tenants who think they will be unable to pay their rent to talk to their landlord at the earliest opportunity to reach a temporary agreement to accept a lower level of rent, or agree a payment plan to settle arrears at a later date.

How do I re-negotiate the rent with the tenant if they have been financially impacted by Coronavirus?

Start with an honest dialogue with your tenants to assess their current financial position, as these will vary. Likewise, be honest with your financial position too. Please be aware that due to the nature of some industries, such as hospitality, it can be difficult for a tenant to provide written evidence of a job loss, or salary reduction.

Based on your personal finances, you need to decide if you want to negotiate;

  • A rent reduction where you agree to accept a lower rent for a specific period of time and the amount it is reduced by will not be payable by the tenant in the future
  • A payment plan where you agree to accept a lower amount of rent temporarily, on the understanding the amount it is reduced by will be payable at some point in the future. This could be managed by agreeing a rent increase in the future to repay the shortfall.

What if I do not want to accept a rental reduction?

Whilst it is best to keep the rent flowing, your own personal financial situation may prevent you from being able to accept a lower level of rent. If you do not accept a tenant’s request for a rent reduction or payment plan, and your tenant falls into significant rent arrears, then you will need to consider the legislative changes made to protect tenants since the Coronavirus crisis commenced.

  • The notice period from landlord to tenant to terminate an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (the most common type of lettings agreement) without a specific breach of the tenancy, otherwise known as serving a 'section 21' notice, has been extended from 2 to 3 calendar months. These new rules currently apply until 30 September 2020 but could be extended further.
  • All possession claims or proceedings to enforce a possession order have put on hold, currently until 25th June 2020, therefore it could be some time until you could repossess your property via the courts.

Where will I find my tenant’s contact details?

Your tenant’s contact details can be found on your My Foxtons account.

How do I let Foxtons know I have negotiated a temporary payment plan with my tenant?

Once you have agreed a temporary payment plan with your tenant, please login to your My Foxtons account and click on the banner ‘Have your rental payments been impacted by the Coronavirus?’, and complete our short online form. By doing this as soon as possible, we can ensure that your tenancy and your rights are protected in the normal way and keep a clear record of your agreement with your tenant.

Inspections and maintenance

Should I be carrying out maintenance works during this time?

Yes, landlords’ repair obligations have not changed. However, during the Coronavirus pandemic the Government is advising landlords and tenants to take a pragmatic, common sense approach’ to non-urgent works and inspections, and in view of the wider Government advice about social distancing these should be postponed where possible.

Where reasonable, safe for all parties and in line with other Government guidance, the recommendation is that you allow contractors access to the property in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues. However, if you are self-isolating or shielding no-one should access your property.

My tenant is self-isolating, can I still enter the property to carry out essential maintenance?

No, work should not be carried out in a home where people are self-isolating or shielding, as per the Government guidance.

What is an urgent health and safety issue?

Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect the tenant’s ability to live safely and maintain their mental and physical health in their home. This could include (but is not limited to):

  • If there is a problem with the fabric of the building, for example the roof is leaking
  • If the boiler is broken, leaving you without heating or hot water
  • If there is a plumbing issue, meaning you don’t have washing or toilet facilities
  • If your white goods such as fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning they are unable to wash clothes or store food safely
  • If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door
  • If equipment a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair

If you have any further questions please contact our lettings support team on lettingssupport@foxtons.co.uk.

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