Following accusations by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) that Coventry Council was flouting government guidelines around COVID-19, councillor Tariq Khan has said there are safeguards in place.
The NRLA said that council plans to implement a licensing scheme for private rented housing from 4 May 2020 will go against advice that the introduction of non-mandatory licensing schemes should be paused.
These guidelines are in place to help avoid unnecessary contact, as licensing schemes necessitate landlords entering properties to check they meet the obligations, and to carry out non-essential works.
In response Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, pointed out that the date for compliance was extended until November.
He said: “The Additional Licensing Scheme, which is designed to protect the safety of tenants, was approved last year to come into effect on 4 May, but there are safeguards for tenants and help available for landlords so evictions can be avoided – especially at this difficult time.
“These included extending the date for compliance for a further six months – until November – and that landlords will only be asked for the first stage payment of £450.
“It is hoped that this will show landlords that enforcement action will not be pursued and that a reasonable approach should be taken in these exceptional times to help tenants stay in their homes and to stay safe.”
Khan went on to outline the government support already in place for tenants and landlords, and to suggest that those unable to pay the first stage fee would receive support, but did not specify what this would entail.
He said: “The government has also recently passed the Coronavirus Act which includes measures to suspend evictions from private rented accommodation, giving more time for tenants, along with a package of support for private landlords.
“If a landlord is having problems paying the initial fee, or needs advice we would urge them to contact us so we can work together to ensure we find a solution tailored to individual requirements.
“If landlords are attempting to illegally evict tenants then the Council will investigate such cases.”