COVID-19 Update for Tenants

Following the advice from the Government concerning the Covid-19 pandemic we have made the tough decision to close the office and all staff will be working from home. As this is uncharted territory, changes may have to be made as the situation unfolds over the next few weeks & months ahead.

We have also reduced our “office hours” to 10.00-16.00 Monday to Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday. You should still call us on 020 8255 5526 and you will be given a series of choices, but please be aware that you may be diverted to a voicemail where we will endeavour to call you back as soon as possible. We are all available on the normal email addresses.

 

Rent Payments Update

We understand that lots of our tenants will be worrying about families, friends and now possibly how to pay your rent over the next few months. We want to reassure you that we will be working with all our landlords and tenants to ensure we all come through this together… no man left behind.

At the time of writing, it is a tenants’ responsibility to contact their local authority if they are having difficulty in making their rental payments. You need to do this to access any benefits available to you and make yourself aware of any Government schemes that may assist with rental payments over the coming weeks.

We believe all help will come via the benefit system, so it is important to claim as early as possible if you are experiencing hardship. In addition, if you are not working due to contracting Covid-19, you should be eligible for additional statutory sick pay.

If you have life/illness insurance cover you should contact your insurer and those tenants who are self-employed should contact their insurer accordingly to see if there are any necessary provisions for interruption of work within their policy.

 

Mortgage and Rental Payment Holidays

It has recently been announced that eligible landlords may be able to apply for a three month mortgage payment holiday. To be clear, a “holiday” simply defers payment into the future, usually adding additional interest. Most landlords are yet to establish if their lenders are offering payment holidays and are naturally worried about being able to pay their own mortgages as well as their buy to let mortgages should they be similarly affected by the viral outbreak. Other landlords may rely on their rental income as their only source of income to live themselves, therefore communication is absolutely vital to allow us to find a way forward together.

Mortgage payment breaks are only being offered to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulty due to the Covid-19 outbreak and as such, you will need to provide us with the following information to allow your landlord to apply (if they have a buy-to-let mortgage):

  • Sign off note from Doctor (obtainable via 111)
  • Comparable wage slips showing a decrease in income or SSP payments
  • Bank statements for comparison showing the same decrease in income
  • Letter from your employer showing reduced hours/layoff
  • Letter from your accountant confirming a reduction of income
  • Copy of benefits claim

 

Similarly to a mortgage payment holiday, the rent will be deferred rather than written off. It will still be owed and accrue on your account so anything you can do to minimise the debt will help you in the long term.

Should you wish to apply for a payment holiday (or temporary reduction/deferment of part rent), we ask that you put forward a payment plan for us to take forward to your landlord on your behalf.

It has not been made clear by the government what should happen if a landlord is in financial difficulty and unable to make mortgage payments after this three month period so we can only hope that the situation is resolved by this point or the government rolls out further financial support.

Please do also remember that the non-payment of rent poses other issues from a management point of view, such as a lack of funds to pay maintenance and safety testing contractors, or our own overheads such as salaries to enable the business to continue operating during this time.

The situation we are all faced with is unprecedented. Please be assured that we will work closely with you and your landlord to enable us to overcome and get through this difficult time together.

 

For further information, the following links might be useful:

Self Employment & Universal Credit
https://www.gov.uk/self-employment-and-universal-credit

Employment & Support Allowance
https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance

Covid-19 Small Business Government Grant
https://smallbusiness.co.uk/how-do-i-get-the-government-30…/

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan
https://smallbusiness.co.uk/how-do-i-apply-for-a-coronavir…/

Citizen’s Advice
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/…/if-youre-struggling-wi…/

Emergency Funding
https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/emergency-funding.aspx

Please share – lots of people are self-employed, and these links tell them how to access financial help from the Government.

Claiming Universal Credit if you’re self-employed – eligibility, reporting your earnings, start up periods

 

Maintenance – if things go wrong

We politely ask that you are patient and ask for your understanding as we are working in unprecedented conditions and the availability of contractors may be minimal if they become ill & have to self -isolate.  You may become ill and the Contractor may not want to enter your home, or you may not feel comfortable with our contractor coming into your home.

In short, we want to prepare you for there to be delays, in some cases, even jobs that are urgent may not be attended to as quickly as we would hope or normally expect.  We will do our utmost to get the jobs you are reporting attended to as quickly as possible but there are going to be inevitable delays due to circumstances out of our hands.

Minor issues will not be dealt with as a matter or priority.

All maintenance to be reported in the usual way online at: https://patricia-shepherd.fixflo.com/

If you smell gas & suspect you have a leak you should call the gas emergency service on 0800 111999

 

Property inspections & tenants moving in & out.

Property inspections have been postponed immediately. We have a plan of action to still hopefully be able to effectively complete check-ins and check-outs.

Please keep an eye on our website for further updates.

In the meantime we hope you and your family stay well and we can all find a way through this together.

 

With best wishes

Patricia Shepherd Letting & Management