David Renton, 7 May 2020
Government support for tenants has been partial and grudging. No minister has suggested that tenants should be granted rent holidays, or that any delay in paying rent during the lockdown should be ignored when payments are due after it ends: tenants may be expected to pay all arrears at once. Still less has there been any proposal to take regulatory action against landlords who use Covid-19 as an excuse to make tenants homeless. Instead the government has published non-statutory guidance inviting landlords to offer ‘support and understanding’ to struggling tenants. One chambers, which principally represents landlords, wrote to its clients last month to say that the government’s proposals at that point did ‘not of themselves prevent evictions . . . Notices served pre-the Act coming into force can be used to start possession proceedings.’ Eventually, after criticism in the press and Parliament, the government grudgingly conceded a three-month stay on possession proceedings from 27 March.