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Coronavirus: latest developments for property guardian companies

Coronavirus / 24 March 2020

Last week, we reported on government’s announcement of radical measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. The Coronavirus Bill on housing possession was laid before Parliament last night (23 March 2020).

As we explained in our last article, the position in respect of licences and property guardians was unclear. However, the current Bill does not extend to licences or contractual tenancies. It therefore does not cover those under the traditional property guardianship business model.

This means that property guardian companies can serve notices to determine (with a minimum 28-day notice period) and issue possession proceedings in the usual way.

From a reputational and human perspective, property guardians who approach you with legitimate concerns over their ability to pay their licence fees due to coronavirus should be treated with caution. Could you agree a licence fee repayment plan to work together as far as possible with the property guardian who cannot afford to pay? Be sure to keep an accurate record of anything you agree.

It is good news for property guardian companies in the sense that, if you need to take action against an anti-social property guardian, or need to handback the building, or for any reason if permitted under the licence agreement, you can do so.

It is likely however, that there will be inevitable delays and backlogs to existing court proceedings due to resourcing issues within the court system. We will of course update our clients on a case-by-case basis of the position with any existing claims we are working on.

Our Real Estate team also published guidance yesterday on COVID-19 and the impact for landlords and tenants which is an important read for those in the real estate sector.

If you have any queries in respect of serving notices to determine, issuing possession proceedings against property guardians or negotiating a licence fee repayment plan in light of the current situation, please do get in touch.

For all our free legal updates regarding coronavirus, please click here.

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