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Coronavirus - legislative changes

This page provides a simple summary of Government legislative changes and measures in reaction to coronavirus.


Last updated: 7th May 2020

CHANGE
POTENTIAL IMPACT AND RESOURCES/COUNTERMEASURES
Property Management

Suspension of housing possession cases in the courts

Effective from:  27.03.20 for 90 days
Potential loss of Landlord income due to rent arrears.  Even if a landlord has already started proceedings these will not completed until the suspension is lifted.

Resources/countermeasure:

  • Tenants – Local authorities can provide some financial support to some tenants that are facing financial hardship. Tenants should apply for Exceptional Hardship payment and discretionary housing payment scheme through their council. This could provide them with additional funds to put towards both rent and council tax in addition to housing and council tax benefits available through councils and universal credit benefits.
  • Landlords – those with regulated buy to let mortgages will be entitled to a 3 month payment holiday to prevent mortgage arrears. (This is only offered by financial providers of regulated mortgage contracts)
Property Management

Commercial tenants unable to pay rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction

Effective from:  23.03.20 for 3 months
Potential loss of Landlord income due to rent arrears.  Even if a landlord has already started proceedings these will not completed until the suspension is lifted.

Resources/countermeasure:

As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the government is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them.

Hospitality

Closure of all Cafes, pubs bars, clubs, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, nightclubs, theatres and cinemas

Effective from:  20.03.20
Loss of income for all businesses in this industry.

Resources/countermeasure:

12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England.

Property sales

Advice from Government regarding property sales (This is advice only at the present time)

Effective from:  26.03.20
Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus. Government advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve the matter.

Resources/countermeasure:

  • UK Finance have today confirmed that, to support those who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.
  • If a customer’s circumstances change during this three month period, or the terms of the house purchase change significantly and continuing with the mortgage would cause house buyers to face financial hardship, mortgage lenders will work with customers to help them manage their finances as a matter of urgency.
  • You are free to continue to accept offers on your property, however the selling process may take longer.
  • If the property you are purchasing is unoccupied you can continue with the transaction.
 

Business insolvency

Plans for amendment to the Insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue

Effective from:  29.03.20
The insolvency act will be temporarily suspended specifically to give confidence to directors to continue trading without the threat of personal liability, should the company ultimately fall into insolvency.

Resources/countermeasure:

  • A moratorium for companies giving them breathing space from creditors enforcing their debts for a period of time whilst they seek a rescue or restructure.
  • Protection of their supplies to enable them to continue trading during the moratorium.
  • A new restructuring plan, binding creditors to that plan.
  • The proposals will also include key safeguards for creditors and suppliers to ensure they are paid, while existing laws against fraudulent trading and the threat of director disqualification will continue to act as an effective deterrent against reckless misuse of these new measures.
Employment (staff leave)

The Working Time (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020

Effective from:  27.03.20
Organisations could have longer periods over the two years following 2020 where they have reduced capacity due to staff taking the additional leave within the timeframe set by the government.

Resources/countermeasure:

Where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus, they have a right to carry the 4 weeks under regulation 13 into the next 2 leave years.

Filing company accounts

Companies able to receive a 3 month extension period to file accounts due to COVID-19

Effective from:  25.03.20
Companies must apply for the extension or they will still receive the automatic penalties.  This could result in a delay in new accounts being available for us to assess the company’s current financial position when considering new loan applications.

Resources/countermeasure:

Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take around 15 minutes to complete. Applications made citing issues around COVID-19 will automatically and immediately will be granted.

Retail

Government to introduce temporary new measures to safeguard the UK high street against aggressive debt recovery actions during the coronavirus pandemic

Effective from: 23.04.20

The government will temporarily ban the use of statutory demands (made between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020) and winding up petitions presented from Monday 27 April, through to 30 June, where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus.
Government is also laying secondary legislation to provide tenants with more breathing space to pay rent by preventing landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent.
Businesses with Rateable premises

A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus.

Effective from: 06.05.20

Legislation had been introduced to bring the next revaluation forward by one year from 2022 to 2021, but following the recent economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic ministers want to ensure businesses have more certainty during this difficult time.
This affects all businesses with rateable premises and will benefit all in the same way. They will be able to forecast their expenditure knowing there will be no changes to their business rates for a further year.

 

Other useful information:


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