COVID-19 Your questions answered

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Viewing Advice

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Contractor Advice

Advice for contractors can be found here

Rent Payments/Evictions

Of course, if you would like an email sent to your tenant BEFORE the rent is due please let us know and we will do this for you. Please email you local branch who will send the email on your behalf. HOWEVER, we strongly recommend that you do not write to tenants early if you do intend to offer a discount.

Every landlord’s personal circumstances are different therefore, we recommend that you consider the financial implications of the offer you are making. We are finding many landlords (when they have seen proof that the tenant is in financial hardship) are offering a 50% rent discount for the next three months PROVIDING rent is paid on time.

Many employers will be continuing to pay salaries and will be taking advantage of the Government scheme. Therefore, we agree that where employers are still making payment, that tenants should continue to pay their rent.

It is completely up to you and of course we can make this clear to your tenant. However, we would recommend you do this ONLY where a tenant can provide proof of financial hardship.

It is at your discretion whether you choose to offer a discount (not repayable) or a rent holiday (repayable).

You only need to make an offer to the tenant if you want to, everyones circumstances are different

The property will still need to be maintained, in particular, emergency repairs must be done

If we don’t receive instructions from you the rent arrears will accrue in the normal way.

Yes, and our standard process is to ask for bank statement, proof of income loss and also proof that benefits have been applied for.

Not immediately. This may change and if it does we will get payments out to landlords. However, currently, deposit rules do not allow us to make payment to landlords until the tenant vacates the property. Most deposits are held by us therefore if the law is changed we will be a good position to immediately make payments to landlords.

This is a really disturbing case and unfortunately something that we are not able to change right now. Clearly you have our sympathy, and, if the property is managed by us, we will be in contact with the tenant to try and reason with them to either make a payment or move out.

Sadly no, there is currently no specific protection for landlords who are not receiving payments from tenants. However, the Government have announced a scheme whereby up to 3 months mortgage payments can be deferred where a Buy to let mortgage cannot be paid.

If a ‘Notice to Quit’ expires on 9th June you will need to wait until this date to establish if the tenant is still in occupation. If they fail to vacate you will be able to take action in the usual way but will not be able to obtain an eviction order until after the 18th June (as the Government has prevented courts issuing eviction orders for three months from 19/03 to 18/06.

We are calling every tenant who has not paid the rent on time and will be in contact with you if payment is not made. Payments we receive will be paid to landlords in the usual way.

We would recommend commencing action against a tenant (Limited company or not) if the rent has not been paid since January, but will not be able to obtain an eviction order until after the 18th June as the Government has prevented courts issuing eviction orders for three months from 19/03 to 18/06.

We are calling all tenants that have rents falling due, in practice it will probably mean 5 to 6 days after the rent is due we will be in a position to call you. But please bear with us, we are getting to everyone as quickly as we can.

Only if you tell us to do so. Otherwise we will tell them to pay the entire rent.
New Business

We are still letting property. We have videos of most available property and are sharing these direct with interested tenants. In addition, some landlords are offering property to the Key Worker Scheme, please see our Key Worker Scheme details further down

We are recommending that unless you are 100% confident your tenant will pay the rent that you do not renew any tenancy that is expiring. It is much easier to get a property back if it has a periodic tenancy.
Maintenance/Access/Moveouts

At present we are only allowing contractors to visit properties in an emergency. All non emergency work has been stopped.

All properties are being are being viewed via videos/photos. When a tenant agrees to take the property we are commencing referencing and sending contracts for signature

Section 21 notices are still valid. However, we can’t obtain an eviction order (if the tenant fails to vacate) until after the 19/06.

At present, Gas safety checks are still proceeding. This is a fluid situation that we are closely monitoring and should this change we will let you know straight away. We’ve asked engineers to keep full records of any tenants who are self isolating and/or refusing access. Whilst there is no specific guidance from the Government on this, we believe attempting to complete a gas check will provide compliance with the current regulations in these particularly challenging circumstances

We would refer you to the current Government advice on essential travel and would suggest that you do not travel to complete any further work at the property at this time.

We understand the frustration with some block management companies. We will operate in the usual way and inform them of any repairs required on your behalf. I hope they reduce your service charge bill this year!

We have a very detailed move out process for tenants, and are finding this is working effectively. Our lettings staff are contacting all tenants currently in occupation (who are due to vacate during the lockdown) and making sure we can arrange key collection and a way of refunding the deposit to them.

It is absolutely fine to use your own contractors but would urge you to ensure you/they comply with the current government guidance on essential travel.

We have no reason to believe that it is/will be harder to get access to a boiler/parts than under usual working conditions. If we hear any information to the contrary, we will closely monitor the situation. The tenancy agreement covers situations where there are essential repairs in the property and as long as we can show we have taken reasonable steps to complete the repair, we believe you will remain compliant with the tenancy.
Mortgage Holiday

It is possible that there will be certain types of lending that will be exempt from the 3 month payment holiday, to find out if you are able to benefit from the payment holiday, we would recommend you contact your mortgage provider.

We are not currently proactively informing tenants of this, but this can and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Yes, we understand all deferred payments will be added to the balance owed.
Managed V Unmanaged

This service is for Landlords who use us to manage their properties. We are happy to convert unmanaged properties to a managed status, and landlords will be expected to sign up for a minimum 12 month contract.

We are happy to takeover the management of your property and take control of this issue. As above, for those properties that have been previously been unmanaged, landlords will be expected to sign up for a minimum 12 month contract.

Potentially they may have a claim if you do not take reasonable steps to complete essential maintenance in your property
Fees

Full fees will be payable as the full rent will be paid eventually. However, if a payment holiday is offered, as you are waiting for the rent, we will also wait for our fees.

We have agreed to reduce our management fee in accordance with any discount you offer up to a maximum of 50% of standard management fee per month. For example if you were to offer a discount of an entire months rent you would still be charged 50% of a standard months management fee.
Rent Warranty/Insurance/References

The Government have today (27/03) announced that notice periods have been extended to three months and, in addition, eviction court proceedings will be suspended for a further three months to 30th September 2020.

Following this action, we can confirm that the Lenwell Rent Warranty Policy has been suspended. No refunds will be made for premiums paid up to today as cover has been provided.

Cover is only being suspended now as the entire legal framework has changed and the country is in a warlike state.

Please be assured that if you have a rent claim in place these will be covered but no claims will accepted from events arising from Tuesday 24th March 2020.

If you have an existing claim underway this will be honoured and payments will be made in the usual way despite the exceptional delay in court proceedings.

We have increased the size of our credit control team and are ready to take immediate action to deal with any tenant that fails to make payment.

Reference checks are still critical to ensure you have the right tenant in your property. We appreciate these are challenging times, but, any new tenancy taken out now will still be enforce after the lockdown and as such will need to abide by the normal rule of law. Depending upon the type of employment of the tenant, you may wish to take a slightly larger amount of rent up front.

Please check with your particular rent insurer as we are hearing that some insurers are withdrawing rent protection cover.

If you are covered by the Lenwell Warranty, it will still pay for now and you will be notified if this changes.

Unfortunately, if you offer a rent holiday or discount you will not be able to claim on the Lenwell Warranty (it is unlikely that you would be able to claim on any other rent protection policy either).
Key worker Scheme

As our Emergency Services continue to go above and beyond what can reasonably be expected of them during this difficult time, we are keen to find any way, big or small, to ease your tremendous burden.
We have some properties available for Emergency Service Key Workers that are free of charge for three months. All of our vacant homes have videos available for you to view, so we can show you the property and if you are interested complete the paperwork.
We'll need you to complete our usual online referencing, but don't worry it won't take long (we know how busy you are !!). Providing you meet the criteria and are an Emergency Service Key Worker (ie NHS worker, Police, Ambulance, Fire or Armed Forces) you'll be entitled to a home.

Many of you will have local homes already, but will, understandably, be very worried about the risk of spreading COVID-19 to loved ones who live with you. These properties can be used to ensure that you keep your family safe and well at home, without fear of them becoming ill.

On behalf of everyone at Lenwell, please know there are not enough words to thank you for what you do on a day to day basis; your are all absolute stars…

I'm a Landlord - How does this it work
If you have a vacant home in the areas we cover Bedford, Luton, Dunstable, Hitchin, Milton Keynes and Northampton, please let us know by contacting covid@lenwell.com We will call you back and take the details.

All properties will be let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or Company Tenancy (where we are letting direct to your employer), the rent amount for the first three months will be zero and thereafter set at the current market rate. The tenant can leave at any time during the first three months at no charge and thereafter, would need to serve one months notice to terminate the tenancy.

We will not charge any fees to you for the duration of this Emergency Key Worker tenancy. Thank you so much for your support, you really are making a difference.

We are asking Key Workers to sign our standard tenancy agreement therefore it is no different from a normal let.
Regulatory/Government Advice

Yes, our staff are trained and can signpost tenants to the various help available. In addition, we are closely monitoring government announcements and where these benefit you or your tenants we are sending relevant communications.

We are currently looking at contacting tenants to gently remind them of their obligations with regard to rent bills, however we are keen not to ‘introduce’ the idea of non payment and so are cautiously monitoring the number of defaulters before we make contact.

We would advise the tenant to check their position with ACAS or other relevant employment body if they feel they are not being treated fairly by their employer.
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