“I’ll never understand why everybody puts so much emphasis on January first. There are three hundred and sixty-four other days in the year that you can make a change.” ―Elizabeth Eulb
Well the 21st birthday of the 21st Century has arrived and a week in it has already been eventful! Hope that you had a lovely time over the Christmas period. I had a very relaxing time with my family, not the same as years past, but we laughed, told bad cracker jokes and ate far too much!
The United Kingdom is in different versions of lockdown, the weather is icy and slippery with the most beautiful winter skies. I have been asked before why I rarely use the information from Westminster regarding lets. Although both Scotland and England are part of the UK, Scotland has its own distinct judicial system and its own jurisdiction. Rather than being solely a Common Law system, Scottish law is a mixed system, and at this point in time Scottish landlords and tenants have different lease agreements, notice periods and are being offered grants and loans that our neighbors have not.
I was hoping that we would have been sent out additional official guidance before I sent out this email, however it seems that we are following the same rules as last week, hopefully there will be something officially I can pass on sent out soon, but looking at the government website the latest update was the information about the tenants hardship loan, which we have had tenants apply for and I have notified the landlords this applies to.
Mainland Scotland is now in lockdown with all areas subject to enhanced level 4 restrictions including a new legal requirement forbidding anyone from leaving their home except for essential purposes. Government guidance on the restrictions can be found here.
Below is a list of key landlord/letting agent activities and how they are impacted by the lockdown restrictions.
The Scottish Association of Landlords are currently awaiting any additional detailed guidance which may come out from the Scottish Government home moves team, however the assumption at present from the guidelines issued, is that the Scottish property letting sector can remain in business, with all precautions in place and working from home unless unavoidable.
Home moves and viewings
People can move home but it is advisable to postpone viewings of properties and delay home moves, where this is possible.
Repairs & maintenance
Tradespeople should only go into a house to carry out or deliver essential work or services, for example:
- – to carry out utility (electricity, gas, water, telephone, broadband) safety checks, repairs, maintenance and installations
- – to carry out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety
- – to deliver, install or repair key household furniture and appliances such as washing machines, fridges and cookers
- – to support a home move, for example furniture removal.
When carrying out essential work in someone’s house, tradespeople should stay 2 metres apart from the people who live there, wear a face covering and follow good hand and respiratory hygiene.
These should continue to take place to obtain safety certificates.
Routine inspections are not essential and should be postponed until the area is removed from level 4 restrictions.
New tenants who plan to travel from England or other countries
The current travel ban between Scotland and other countries has a number of exemptions which can be found at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/344/schedule/7A and allows travel to “move home or undertake activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for”. Although it is advisable to postpone house moves in level 4 areas if possible, they can still take place if necessary and new tenants can still move to Scotland from other nations for the purposes of a house move
PRS Landlord (non-business) Covid19 Loan Support
In November, the Scottish Government has published this update to the landlord loan scheme, saying:
“No landlord should evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due Covid-19 and landlords should be flexible with tenants facing financial hardship and signpost them to the sources of financial support available.
“Tenants will still need to pay their rent and measures have been put in place to help people who are facing financial difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak but we know it will take time for these measures to kick in and landlords could be facing delayed or loss of rental income.
“To support landlords, the PRS Landlord (non-business) Covid-19 Loan is available to assist landlords experiencing interruption to normal monthly rental payments.”
General guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) for private landlords and letting agents can be found here – https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-landlord-and-letting-agent-faqs/
The PRS Landlord (non-business) Covid-19 Loan will provide short-term support for landlords where tenants are having difficulty paying rent as a result of the impacts of Covid-19. Landlords should be engaging with their tenants to manage these difficulties and this loan is intended to support them to do this.
The interest free loan is available for PRS landlords who:
- were, or had applied to become, registered before 01 February 2020;
- are not classified as businesses;
- have 5 or less properties available for rent
- properties available for rent are classed as being within the private rented sector (as per the terms of the 2006 Housing Scotland Act)
- have lost rental income as a result of tenants facing difficulty in paying rent as a result of the Covid-19 situation or where a rental property became vacant on or after 01 August 2020 and the landlord is unable to get a new tenant because of the restrictions currently in place.
The loan scheme funding may be used to pay the mortgage on a rental property where your mortgage lender is unwilling to provide a mortgage holiday or to pay living expenses that would usually be covered by the lost rental income. This includes where the rental property has no mortgage or you are covering mortgage payments by other means.
The loan scheme will cover lost rental income for up to 3 properties although landlords will be able to indicate if they are losing rental income from more than one property.
Landlords will be able to apply for a loan to cover lost rental income for a period of up to 6 months, backdated to the 01 August 2020. An initial payment of half of the agreed amount will be available and landlords will be asked to verify the continued loss of income before the second instalment is paid.
Loan repayments will be deferred for 6 months, with the loan being repaid in 24 monthly instalments. The loan can be fully repaid at any point and requests for extension of the payback period will be considered on a case by case basis.
The loan is intended to provide an option where other forms of financial support are unavailable to the landlord. Where a landlord is eligible for other forms of support – for example the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – then they would be expected to take these up rather than apply for this loan.
Mortgage lenders are making repayment holidays available in line with UK Government commitments. In the first instance, landlords facing difficulties with mortgage repayments for a rental property are expected to seek a mortgage repayment holiday from their lender rather than apply for this loan.
In all circumstances, landlords should engage with their tenants, as detailed in the Coronavirus Guidance (COVID-19) for private landlords and letting agents. Although landlords cannot compel tenants to access the available support, it is beneficial to engage with tenants experiencing difficulty to raise awareness of the help that is available to them.
Where the landlord is applying for this loan in respect of loss arising from their tenant being unable to pay their rent, it is expected that they will have discussed rent issues with the tenant and reached agreement on managing rent arrears before they apply for the loan
I have noticed on the invoices from factors that they are offering discounts for direct debit payments. This is not a function Glasgow Property Letting can undertake, however should you wish to contact you factor and arrange this, please let me know and I can advise the last invoice that we received.
Take care, stay safe and although the office is virtual so to speak while we are still working from home, we are here and can be contacted on email@example.com, the office number 0141 2213990 or mobile number,
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0141 221 3990
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