Today’s announcement means that most tenants should be able to continue paying their rent

Good evening. It’s disturbing times indeed, with a further economic shock forecast as the threat of complete lockdown looms closer. We are writing to all of our readers and also including an update for our landlords.

For all our current landlords with vacant rooms, today I have purchased 360 technology that will arrive by Tuesday. We will be taking virtual reality tours of your properties (only if you do not have one) for £50 and will install a lockbox (if there is not one present) for £50.

In addition to this, all of our office phones are plug and play so that we can continue to make and receive office calls during a lockdown.

This means that we will be able to continue operating during a lockdown. As all staff can work from home, applicants can view your vacant rooms online, we can conduct referencing and electronically sign contracts, leaving keys in lock boxes for check ins without the need for human face-to-face contact.

And here’s to today’s dramatic and fairly positive update as deaths rise faster in the UK than in Italy. However, China seems to now have a grip on the virus with no new domestic cases for a second day running (if statistics are believed to the nth degree)!

Measures announced by the government include the following:

  1. A Covid-19 job retention scheme with any employer being eligible. This will cover 80% (or up to £2,500 per month) of the wages for each person per month. This is good news for most tenants as it will mean they should be able to continue paying the rent.This scheme will be backdated to 1st March and there is no limit. It is, however, unclear whether this applies to zero-hour contracts, so I will update you on this as more info is announced
  2. Pubs, gyms and restaurants are to close as soon as possible tonight to increase social distancing. Scientists are advising the government that social distancing may be needed for most of a 12-month period.
  3. The public have been advised NOT to go out
  4. Business grants that were announced earlier in the week are to be paid to eligible businesses by the end of April
  5. There will be a Covid-19 business loan scheme available from Monday for large and medium businesses. This will provide interest-free loans now for 12 months (as opposed to the original six)
  6. Further cashflow support has been announced in the form of VAT payments being deferred to the end of the financial year
  7. There has also been some good news for the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors with business rates being abolished
  8. Universal Credit has increased by £1k per year and working tax credit by the same amount. In addition to this, the minimum income floor has been suspended, meaning that self-employed people can access Universal Credit should they need
  9. One last piece of good news is that the self-assessment deadline has been deferred to January 2021

It is my hope that these new measures will help keep the economy buoyant and prevent businesses from collapsing.

It is, however, disappointing that no realistic measures have been put in place for the self-employed apart from increased access to sick pay and Universal Credit. Maybe this is to follow in the coming days or weeks.

I will sign off this update with a comment from Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, who hailed the government’s support for workers and businesses unveiled earlier today:

“This is a landmark package of measures for business, people and jobs.”

“The Chancellor’s offer of substantial payroll support, fast access to cash and tax deferral will support the livelihoods of millions. Firms and employees will respond with relief and determination.

“It marks the start of the UK’s economic fightback – an unparalleled joint effort by enterprise and government to help our country emerge from this crisis with the minimum possible damage.  An important day for our country.”

Now more than ever, we need to stand by each other and support each other. The Home Share team remain here to support our landlords and tenants and I would like to thank all of our landlords for putting their trust in us as we strive to do this.

I plan on calling all our managed landlords over the coming weeks to discuss the situation and ensure that we can help them have the right plans in place over the coming months.

As usual, we are happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have and as usual, you are welcome to email me on hasan@home-share.co.uk.

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