The Covid 19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is presenting us with serious challenges but we are working hard to maintain as normal a service as possible to both tenants and landlords during these uncertain times, while operating within the government’s guidelines.
Lettings, property management and sales staff all now home-based and fully operational
Some sales and lettings companies have closed for now but we are very much operational and here to support our clients although of course, we have had to temporarily shut our branches. All our staff are now home based and our usual phone lines will automatically connect you with one of the team and of course, email addresses are regularly monitored.
As an independent family business, we are small enough to make changes to our operations quickly and efficiently, reacting promptly to any new measures introduced by the government so please rest assured that we are doing all we can to manage this difficult situation until normality eventually returns.
Rental demand in London – the current situation
While applicant enquiries have fallen by around 70% across our 16 lettings branches in central London, west London, north London, the City and east London, we are still receiving enquiries from tenants – and still receiving offers on rental properties – although lower than previously.
While many tenants are currently reaching the end of their tenancy agreement are choosing to renew, some are caught in a chain and have no choice but to find a new rental property – often because they had already given notice to their landlord before the current crisis and so are committed to moving out and finding new rental accommodation in London. We are offering these tenants our full support to find a new home as soon as possible.
It is helpful that most of our rental properties are furnished which means tenants won’t need a removal van but should be able to pack their belongings into a taxi (or two) for their move.
And there is still some optimism from applicants who continue to view our rental properties online using our video tours – we have video tours for over 95% of our rental properties. We are also carrying out viewings via Facetime, WhatsApp and WeChat. Of course, these viewings are mainly for future moves, when the current crisis is over, but it does indicate that demand for rental accommodation in London will bounce back, we just cannot yet say when.
How Benham & Reeves is helping tenants and landlords
Tenants are finding themselves in a variety of situations, with often difficult decisions to make. For example, we are working with tenants who are currently out of the country and unable to return to London while some are asking to end their tenancy early as they wish to return to their home town to be with their families.
Some tenants are concerned they cannot pay their rent although the government’s recent announcement regarding financial support both for employed and self-employed should help to allay these concerns.
Each tenant’s situation is different and we are working with each individually to support them through this difficult time.
In such a fast-moving situation, those of you who need to stay updated with the latest Coronavirus news from the UK government, should visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Guidance for landlords
Currently, we are reminding tenants that new laws do not mean that tenants do not have to pay their rent.
The government has taken steps to protect tenants who cannot pay their rent and is introducing a law to prevent eviction proceedings against tenants for at least three months to ensure anyone who has lost their job is not made homeless.
While many of our tenants are corporate professionals and hopefully do not fall into this category, there may be issues with non-payment of rent but our credit control teams are fully operational and regularly liaising with tenants and landlords.
If a tenant cannot pay the rent at the moment, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan to make up any arrears.
Equally, landlords with a mortgage can contact their lender to request a three month mortgage payment holiday.
For more information about the temporary ban on evictions, click here
Further help is available
We will be regularly updating our clients – landlords and tenants – with the latest information.
If you are letting a property through a different agent who is currently unavailable and need assistance, please get in touch here and we will do our best to help.
View all posts by Anita Mehra