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Coronavirus Act 2020: What tenants need to know

As well as providing advice for landlords, the Government's recent Coronavirus Act 2020 included elements designed to protect tenants during this difficult time.

Last updated 02.09.2020

In this guide we take a look at some of the key areas that tenants need to understand and answer some of the key questions that we are being asked.

Rent payment FAQs

As a tenant, should I stop paying rent during the outbreak?

  • Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. The government has a strong package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal, they should do so. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity.

  • In many if not most cases, the COVID-19 outbreak will not affect tenants’ ability to pay rent. If your ability to pay will be affected, it’s important to have an early conversation with your landlord. Rent levels agreed in your tenancy agreement remain legally due and you should discuss with your landlord if you are in difficulty.

What can I do about rent arrears?

  • Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity.

  • An early conversation between landlord and tenant can help both parties to agree a plan if tenants are struggling to pay their rent. This can include reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date. Where a landlord does choose to serve notice seeking possession for rent arrears or has done so already, the notice period and any further action will be affected by legislation lengthening the notice period and/or the suspension of possession claims.

  • If a landlord and tenant agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date, it is important they both stick to this plan, and that tenants talk to their landlord immediately if they are unable to do so.

  • If a tenant is worried about being unable to pay their rent, or if landlords become aware of tenants who may be in difficulty, advice is available from specialist providers such as Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Service.

  • Local authorities can provide support for tenants to stay in their homes. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to access new funding.

  • If you are worried about being evicted and not having anywhere else to go, you should speak to your local authority.

  • If you fall into financial difficulties due to a change in your employment or earnings, for example, you may qualify for Universal Credit. Property Guardian licence agreements are a valid tenancy arrangement for receiving housing costs support in Universal Credit.

  • The Coronavirus Act 2020 means that for Assured Shorthold Tenancies, landlords who do issue notices seeking possession must provide an extended notice period of six months.

  • Regardless of this legislation, where tenants have difficulty paying rent over this period, the Government has encouraged landlords not issue a notice seeking possession, particularly given that the tenant may be sick or facing other hardship due to COVID-19. However it is important to note that the law does still allow for a landlord to serve notice should they decide to do so.

  • During the current period, the Lord Chief Justice has said that applications to suspend warrants of possession should be prioritised, and that judges dealing with any possession claim must have in mind the public health guidance and should not make an order that risks impacting on public health. Find out more here

Property access

The current Government advice in terms of social distancing should be adhered to where at all possible, however there may be certain scenarios where a landlord may need access to the property you are renting.

Below are some potential scenarios where a landlord may require access.

What does this mean for repairs in my home?

  • Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed. Tenants have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live – and it is in the best interests of both tenants and landlords to ensure that properties are kept in good repair and free from hazards.

  • Good management requires regular review and maintenance of a property, but we understand that planned inspections may be more difficult at this time. However, that is no reason to allow dangerous conditions to persist.

  • You should inform your landlord early and engage constructively in the event that you encounter any issues with the condition of their property, and the effect of current restrictions should be considered.

  • In these unprecedented times we encourage tenants and landlords to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to non-urgent issues which are affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.

What if my boiler breaks, or something else happens which is an urgent risk to my health?

  • Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed. Where reasonable, safe for you and in line with other Government guidance, it is recommended that you allow local authorities, landlords or contractors access to your property in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues, adhering to social distancing measures where necessary.

  • Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect your ability to live safely and maintain your mental and physical health in your home. This could include (but is not limited to):
    • If there is a problem with the fabric of your building, for example the roof is leaking
    • If your boiler is broken, leaving you without heating or hot water
    • If there is a plumbing issue, meaning you don’t have washing or toilet facilities
    • If your white goods such as fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning you are unable to wash clothes or store food safely
    • If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door
    • If equipment a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair

  • You can find further guidance on visits to properties to make repairs here

  • You must continue to meet your legal and contractual obligations as a tenant, including paying rent where you are able to. 

If you are a tenant of a property managed by KFH and have any questions, then please contact your local KFH branch.

You can access further guides and resources for tenants in our Help and Advice section.


Information in this article is taken from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government document ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19)Guidance for Landlords and Tenants


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