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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I withhold the deposit for a deep clean following a tenant vacating my property where they have had Covid-19

At the point of negotiating or for adjudication, you will need to provide evidence that the tenant had the illness, such as an email exchange between the landlord/agent and tenant and this will be considered on a case by case basis

My Tenant has requested to pay less rent - as a landlord, what are my rights during this pandemic?

 

We have seen requests from tenants to pay less rent for a fixed period of 3 or 4 months, for the period during which the Covid-19 virus affects trade and/or for the remainder of a lease. Sometimes these requests are coupled with a proposal to pay the arrears caused by the reduced rent at a later date.   

Leases, except where rent is entirely calculated by turnover, do not contain provisions allowing reductions in rent.  At present, rent can only be reduced or delayed by agreement between a landlord and a tenant.

If a landlord is prepared to negotiate a change to the tenant's rent payment obligations under the terms of its lease, and has the consent of its lender and landlord if required, then this arrangement should be documented. If it is not, there is a risk that a tenant may subsequently claim that the landlord has lost its right to enforce the lease terms by way of waiver or estoppel.

A change in rent payment terms can best be recorded in a side letter. This is preferable to a deed of variation of a lease, as a variation is more time consuming to negotiate and may bind successors in title.

The Government is currently consulting with various landlord bodies about further possible measures in respect of non-payment of rents. Landlords should consider reserving rights to revisit any rent concessions they put in place if the Government announces measures for support with unpaid rent.

Can you please give us some information on Coronavirus and our student tenants who want their deposits back as the university has closed and they are going home to their parents

There is a lot of confusion around this, however all tenants need to understand that they did sign a contract for a fixed period of time, and they remain liable for all rent and other terms of the tenancy notwithstanding the current situation we all find ourselves in. They will need to speak to their landlord or agent to discuss any option of ending the contract early

I am a landlord and my tenants still want to move into the property, even earlier than planned, which I am happy for them to do as the house is empty, but what should I do as I won’t be able to carry out the check-in inspection

While not ideal, where a property is empty and has been for some time, and it is safe for you, or the person to do so, a check-in inspection can still be done. However if you are unable to organise and provide a check-in report, the options are:

  • To arrange a video call with the tenant once they have the keys and walk around the property checking each area. You can make notes as you go, and follow up the call with an email confirming what you saw and discussed, remembering both condition and the standard of cleaning in the property. The tenant should be encouraged to confirm the details of your email
  • For landlords or agents to send the tenants the check-out report from the previous tenancy, ONLY if it was carried out very recently and little, or no work, was carried out before the new tenancy start date.  The new tenants should be asked to make any amends, take photographs to support their comments, date and email it back to you within seven days. This can act as a starting point to protect both you and the tenant in relation to the condition and standard of cleaning.

Of course if, in either of these circumstances, there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy, the evidence will be considered on a case by case basis.

TIP: Remember to arrange a property visit when normal business is resumed.