05 Mar 2021
The Covid-Recovery budget announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week provides for the extension of furlough, the Job Retention Scheme and the £20 increase on Universal Credit. These measures go some way to easing the financial burden on tenants, with the hope that will assist them in meeting their rental payments. Do they go far enough to ease the pain for many landlords who have received reduced or even no rent for almost a year now?
The Stamp Duty Land Tax savings in England for buy to let properties have been extended until later in the year with the threshold reducing from £500,000 to £250,000 in June, and reducing again to £125,000 in September. There has been a steady increase in the demand for rental properties.
The SDLT relief south of the border may allow private landlords to satisfy that demand. But in Scotland, the SDLT relief currently in place is due to end at the end of March 2021 and the Scottish Government has decided not to extend it. One wonders how the demand for private rented housing stock in Scotland will be satisfied if Scottish Landlords have received little financial support in the face of reduced rental income and are not to benefit from the tax savings being offered south of the border.
At present there are effectively 4 sets of measures in place to guard against eviction in the private rented sector:
Measures 1 to 3 are in place until the end of March 2021 but it is anticipated they will be extended further, perhaps to the summer or the end of September. Measure 4 is also in place until the end of March. This measure is more likely to be guided by the health pandemic and may continue to apply to certain areas of the country depending where they sit in the “Tier” system.
There is a common misconception that the widely-publicised “ban on evictions” means a landlord can do nothing. That is not the case. It is still competent to serve notices, raise a tribunal application and have an eviction order granted.
It is only the physical carrying out of the eviction by sheriff officers that is temporarily on hold for public health reasons. Given the extended notice periods still in force, it is important to (1) issue any notices and (2) engage with the tenant through the pre-action procedure just as soon as possible.
It is also very important to note that if you have previously served a notice, tribunal proceedings for eviction must be commenced within 6 months from the expiry date of the notice, otherwise the notice will fall and it will be necessary to start the whole process again with a new notice.
If you would like more detailed advice, feel free to email Carly by clicking here