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Can landlords re-possess properties if tenants can’t afford to pay the rent because of the coronavirus outbreak?

After 25 March 2020, and until 30 September 2020, a landlord can only start possession proceedings against a tenant if they have served 3 months’ notice upon the tenant – irrespective of any grounds relied upon.

On 27 March 2020, the Court introduced new rules to put all possession proceedings (except against trespassers) on hold until 25 June 2020 – it means that the Court cannot make an order for possession or any other order that would cause someone to be evicted during that time.

These rules do not just apply to tenants who have fallen into rent arrears.

On 5 June 2020, the Government announced that this stay would be extended further until 23 August 2020.

This means that you can issue new possession proceedings (provided you have complied with the new temporary rules in relation to notice periods, if the notice was served since 25 March 2020) and you can continue with existing possession proceedings.

However, any progress you may be able to make in dealing with those proceedings is likely to be very limited – the Court will allow you to comply with directions orders that have already been made but non-compliance will not be punished (at least for the time being).

These rules, and the latest announcements, are in keeping with the Government’s expectation that landlords show compassion towards affected tenants and that all parties will work together to establish a suitable repayment plan to allow tenants to repay the arrears at an affordable rate.

Related FAQs

Can a Tier 2 sponsored worker start working before their visa has been granted?

Ordinarily, no but during the pandemic, yes.

You can start employing a Tier 2 or 5 worker who is in the UK before their visa application has been decided if the following conditions have been met.

  • You have assigned the worker a Certificate of Sponsorship
  • They have made an in time visa application (i.e. they made their new visa application before their current leave expired) and they have provided you with evidence of this
  • The job you employ them in is the same as the one stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship.

Sponsors should be aware that they should carry out right to work checks before the individual starts undertaking work for them and if their visa application is eventually rejected, they must stop employing them.

Although sponsors will not be able to record migrant activity on the SMS about these workers, the Home Office has confirmed that any necessary reports should still be made on the sponsor’s internal systems.

If the worker is outside the UK, they may be able to start work for you remotely subject to the relevant employment, tax and immigration requirements in that country.

What type of agreements are we talking about?

To respond to the crisis businesses might need to exchange information to a greater extent than they would usually. They might need to discuss capacity and to coordinate supply chains (both upstream and downstream). They might need to purchase or sell jointly to ensure vital supplies are maintained. In general agreements or collaboration which:

  • Avoid a shortage, or ensure security, of supply
  • Ensure a fair distribution of scarce products
  • Continue essential services
  • Provide new services such as food delivery to vulnerable consumers
What is the risk if I insist that my employees have the vaccine?

If you do not have a justifiable reason for insisting that your employees have the vaccine (see FAQ above) your employee could resign and bring a claim of constructive unfair dismissal if they have more than 2 years’ continuous employment. This would be on the basis that you have breached trust and confidence.

If the vaccine includes pig gelatine (as many do), and the employee refuses on religious or because they are vegan, you may face a claim for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Can furloughed workers still continue with union or non-union representation duties?

Yes, they can continue to undertake duties or activities for representative purposes. This includes individual or collective representation of their colleagues. They must not carry out any actual work or generate revenue for their employer or a linked or associated organisation.

Will there be further measures for self-employed announced?

The Government assured parity for the self-employed but it has since accepted that this would be difficult to achieve. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has worked closely with the Government on implementing the current self-employment income support scheme. IPSE has confirmed that it will continue to work on helping to extend measures to all freelancers in need as a result of Covid-19.

The Government announced an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme from 1 November 2020.