What we’re doing to help our landlords

  • Author: Lime Property
  • Date Posted: 31st March 2020

UPDATE: 11th May

PM’s Statement 10th May 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday evening, we have absorbed every step of progress made over the last 24 hours as we try to secure Government guidance for our sector.  As it stands, the guidance issued on 26th March is still in force today.

Having read the Governments COVID-19 recovery strategy, whilst outlining greater detail on a number of issues, it does not provide full clarity and I’m sure that there are still many questions to be answered over the coming days. Please click this link for full details.

The positives are, that whilst we work to secure sector specific guidance, we have seen a large uplift in consumer demand for viewings today, which is a great sign! We are looking at creative ways to deal with this demand until face to face viewings are fully permitted.

As soon as further guidance is provided, appropriate plans have been put into place to allow us to react quickly and flexibly as a business, but with the safety of our staff, clients and local community as our paramount consideration.

UPDATE: 24th April

Rental account update

As we move towards the end of the first month of tenants potentially being on reduced pay schemes or Universal credit, we have seen a slight uplift in rental arrears. Thankfully the majority of tenants are paying what is affordable and liaising with us on payment plans.

As companies start to receive furloughed payments and as universal credit catches up with demand, we expect this to be a temporary spike with a downturn as we move towards mid-May.

We are monitoring rental accounts day and night and should your tenant be having financial issues we will make you aware.

Rental market resilience

The impact of coronavirus has been less pronounced in the lettings market than in the sales market. Increased uncertainty means households looking for a home will turn to the rental market first to meet any immediate housing need.

Demand for rental properties fell by more than 55% between 7 March and 30 March. In contrast, the sales market was hit by a 70% decline in buyer demand, after the government effectively suspended transactions.

The additional flexibility in the lettings market, which has allowed agents to agree rental contracts with delayed start dates, and agree terms based on online viewings, means that activity has continued throughout the lockdown, albeit at a significantly lower rate.

Once lockdown restrictions ease, activity levels will likely rise and match previous years’ levels in the typically busier seasonal periods in Q3 and Q4.

Rents were up 2.4% on the year, compared to 2.5% annual growth in February and the 2.3% recorded in December 2019.

UPDATE: 17th April 2020.

Following on from the government advice from last night we’re heading into another 3 weeks of lockdown. We’d just like to reiterate our commitment to delivering high quality rental and property management services for our landlord customers, safely from a working from home environment.

UPDATE: 31st March 2020.

Please see below for some important updates from Lime Property regarding the Coronavirus, and what we’re doing to help our landlords.

Thank you!

Firstly, thank you to all of our landlords for your continued business. The support and positive feedback we have recieved is very much appreciated.

Health & Wellbeing

In line with government advice and to protect our staff’s health and wellbeing, our office closed on 24th March. Due to our advanced technology, myself and the team are able to work remotely to enable service continuity. As always, should you need any non-tenancy support or assistance please don’t hesitate to contact us at help@lime-property.co.uk or call 01482 216060 to speak to a team member.

To get our latest updates for landlords check back to this blog from time to time, as it will cover the main resources you’ll need during this difficult period and important updates from us.

Here are some further updates on how we are making changes in response to the Coronavirus…

Rental Accounts

I wanted to provide you with a detailed update as to how we have being handling rental queries from tenants and landlords alike, as I appreciate a lot of financial situations could be effected by the Coronavirus.

Incoming calls have more been in relation to ‘what if’ occupants can’t pay their rents rather than immediate financial concerns. With regard to these types of calls, once we have gathered detailed information on occupants individual circumstances we have continued to provide them with the factual information they require to get support should they incur financial difficulties, we have had a positive response to this tact as tenants seem keen not to pass financial stress onto landlords.

Please be assured that our advice to tenants who have called us regarding non-payment, is to pay as much as they can rather than not at all, as the full rent will be due at some point. We will be creating formal rental payment plans for any tenant who does fall into arrears and have reiterated to tenants that ‘mortgage holidays’ are only deferred payments and are not applicable to all landlords.

In-depth data is being gathered and logged on all incoming rental queries and each account will be monitored on a weekly basis over the coming months, every case is being treated individually and we are making contact with relevant landlords at the appropriate time.

Thankfully the governments short term policy of flooding the economy with financial support should alleviate concern over rental arrears for many.

Coronavirus Act – Notices

The special law passed because of Coronavirus means that from 26 March 2020 landlords will have to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy) – this means the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period. This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30 September 2020 and both the end point, and the three-month notice period can be extended if needed.

This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of evictions. This includes possession of tenancies in the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988. After three months, if the tenant has not moved, a landlord needs to apply to court in order to proceed.

Suspension of court proceedings

Following extensive consultation on the impact of COVID-19, from 27 March 2020, the court service has suspended all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted.

This suspension of housing possessions action will apply to those in both England and Wales and will initially last for 90 days but can be extended if needed. This measure will cover all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Inspections

During these unprecedented times, Lime Property are looking at alternative and creative ways of continuing to provide the best possible service to our tenants and landlords alike. As we all face restrictions on social interactions we are asking tenants to assist us in our property inspection obligations.

As inspections have cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are kindly asking that occupants take photos of each room within the property and send them to us via email. Every aspect of each room will be required to be photographed alongside the front and rear gardens. We will then input the images into our software and generate the report to you as normal.

Please be advised that due to this sensitive time it is only optional for tenants to comply. Should they not feel comfortable providing us with the relevant information then we will conduct the inspection at a later date.

Maintenance

As of the 25th March, the government has advised that repair and maintenance work can continue, however, due to the large number of occupants self-isolating and reduced contractor availability, we are focusing purely on repairs we deem a necessity during this time. Once it is safer to do so, we will re-open any ongoing cases.

We have notified all occupants of this and have provided them with the information on how best to report urgent maintenance.

Moving forward

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be touching base with everyone individually to discuss your specific needs during this challenging time.

Feedback & Ideas

In the meantime, it’d be great to get some feedback from you so that we can offer the most reactive and responsive service. We’re open to any of your ideas to help us offer you a more effective service.

Useful Information

Andy Steele, MD of 360 Accountants, has produced a very useful resource for local businesses in Hull and East Yorkshire – summing up all the government Coronavirus support packages here. See what you think!

Stay safe,