LANDLORDS CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT OF LOCKDOWN ON THEIR MORTGAGE REPAYMENTS FOR HMOs RENTED TO STUDENTS
On Sunday 10 January 2021, Nottingham Post's Senior Digital Reporter and Crime Correspondent, Matt Jarram, highlighted landlords' fears that students, having been told not to return to campus during lockdown, will withhold rents and, as a consequence, landlords will not be able to pay mortgages on the properties they own.Landlords worried mortgages won't be paid after students start refusing to pay rent. ...
Landlords worried mortgages won't be paid after students start refusing to pay rent
'Don't refuse to pay and go straight to war. It is better to talk first'
Students are starting to refuse to pay rent to landlords in the private sector as the battle over paying for properties they are not using continues.
Nottingham students have joined a nationwide strike by planning to withhold accommodation rent payments after being told not to return to campus during lockdown.
The online petition is asking for no-penalty contract releases at halls of residence and for deposits to be fully refunded.
In addition, there are calls for a reduction in rent of 40 percent and for students to face no repercussions for being involved in the action.
It is claimed that 950 University of Nottingham students have signed up so far.
But now the battle has moved into the private sector, with some students in their second and third years asking for rent payments to be halted for houses they are not using.
Tom Tomlinson, managing director of student accommodation provider Tomlinson Estates, in Lenton, has more than 200 student properties on his books.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: "We are getting requests from people refusing to pay and we are trying to work with them.
"We have to make sure it is a genuine need and work with the landlord and tenant to come up with a payment plan.
"There is a feeling it will wash out into the private sector. But don't refuse to pay and go straight to war. It is better to talk first."
He said the impact on student landlords will be "immeasurable" if students stop paying rent.
He added: "Landlords have mortgages to pay and rely on the money.
"It is their prime source of income and some are elderly and put their money into these properties."
East Midlands Property Owners Group, based in Lenton, which represents around 600 landlords in the city, is trying to come up with solutions to avoid that from happening.
Giles Inman, business development manager at EMPO, said: "Students across England must remain where they are and start online lecturing and that is until mid-February.
"There are exceptions with some courses such as medicine. There is no legal process within the coronavirus lockdown for them to seek rent reduction or rent suspension.
"Boris Johnson has said he will be looking at the issue of student rents - and we are hoping it will assist both students and landlords.
"We did have landlords in the autumn that were reducing rent or negotiating it.
"But they have still got mortgages to pay and agency fees. Our message is 'if you are struggling go and speak to your landlord or university.'
"Landlords are not hard-nosed businessmen.
"Landlords could have sought possession of their property but they have accepted reduced rent or a rent-free payment period.
"We are doing our bit. No one wants to see people made homeless."
The University of Nottingham said it may be able to offer interest-free loans or non-repayable grants to students experiencing financial difficulties resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Landlords are also in a difficult spot in evicting bad tenants during the pandemic.
Eviction notices could be served between two weeks and two months, according to EMPO, but from the end of August, it has now moved to six months.
For example, if students held a large house party in their property, it would take a long time to evict a student despite them breaching the tenancy agreement.
Mr Inman is not aware of any landlord that has evicted a student due to a large house party which would have been against the terms of their contract.
He added: "If a student landlord wanted to evict students it would take six months notice. There is very little we can do about it but it is a police matter."