The new “golden rules” devised by the National Residential Landlords Association, are designed to sustain tenancies in the rental housing market prior to the court’s resumption of possession case hearings from the 21st September.
The rules will form a central part of measures announced by the Government to ensure courts can start to process possession cases following the six month ban.
The document published today by the NRLA provides practical advice and support to sustain tenancies where tenants are facing financial difficulties. It includes ensuring that tenants and landlords properly communicate with each other as soon as a problem arises, that the landlord understands the tenant’s needs and circumstances.
It ensures that suitable arrangements can be agreed where possible to address rent arrears that might be building. This might include supporting tenants to access financial support that could be available, making use of guarantors or developing suitable rent repayment schedules.
The rules also include advice about access to mediation services where it might help, and warns landlords to keep written copies of all communication with tenants to prove the efforts made to sustain tenancies should the case need to come to court. Judges have made clear that they will make use of powers to adjourn cases where they feel proper processes have not been followed.
The NRLA argues that these rules, together with changes announced to the way courts operate means that possessions cases can be heard again, starting with the most urgent related to anti-social behaviour, tenants committing domestic violence and cases of extreme rent arrears.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
“Despite the courts opening up again, it does not mean that repossessions are an inevitable consequence where tenants and landlords have struggled due to COVID-19. The golden rules published today provide all the advice needed to sustain tenancies – but it is incumbent on both parties to speak to each other.
“We welcome the framework developed by the Government to ensure courts can begin to hear possession cases again. In such challenging times they broadly strike the right balance between protecting tenants affected by COVID and the need for landlords to tackle the most severe cases including anti-social tenants and cases of extreme rent arrears.
“That said we remain concerned that the expectation for landlords, the majority of whom are not property tycoons, is to go without rent for anything up to a year before such cases are deemed a priority. Such a position is not sustainable, especially as there is almost no chance of the rent arrears being recouped. We will continue to raise the difficulties that this will cause.”
The NRLA “golden rules” can be accessed here
The Master of the Rolls (as Head of Civil Justice) established a Working Group on Possession Proceedings that has produced guidance on the overall arraganements