Post-holiday lettings update: Tenant safety as priority

4 January 2021

Covid-19 guidelines for letting agents and landlords, updated with the introduction of a fourth tier and still applicable during the third national lockdown, continue to prioritise tenant safety while reminding agents of tenant protections in place.

The situation with Covid-19 is rapidly changing. For the latest guidelines, please refer to gov.uk.

The 2020 holiday period was disrupted by the introduction of Tier 4 Covid-19 measures across much of England, and now 2021 starts with a new national lockdown. The government has confirmed that the lettings industry can continue to operate under these restrictions, and its guidance for home moving emphasises that the safety of tenants should remain the "first priority" for agents and landlords.

The guidance, updated to accommodate tier 4 restrictions and still applicable for house moves during the national lockdown, also promotes flexibility from all parties involved in house moves. 

The guidelines outline that viewings, other property visits, or tenancy check-ins for new tenancies agreed should be conducted in line with government advice on renting and working in other people's homes, and should follow social distancing and public health advice, to minimise the spread of the virus. 

Eviction Proceedings

The guidance also reminds agents of the measures to protect tenants during the pandemic, including "legislation to delay when landlords are able to start proceedings to evict tenants by requiring landlords to give tenants longer notice periods than usual", set at six months' notice in most cases until at least March 2021.

It highlights that agents and landlords "should endeavour to work with their tenants to sustain tenancies as far as possible, where the tenant wants to and is able to stay."

Tim Balcon, the new chief executive of Propertymark, references the impact of the "winter truce" evictions ban in a statement to the National Residential Landlords Association. "The current ban on evictions will remain in place until the end of January, continuing to impact landlords who are dealing with ongoing rent arrears. This will also add further pressure on the courts which are managing a backlog of cases and we expect that, when the ban lifts, there will be a delay in cases going to court."

He warns to expect continuing financial difficulties for tenants who are affected by Covid-19 which "will have a knock-on impact on paying their rent."

This article is intended as a guide only. For more information, see gov.uk.

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