Tenant may refuse to move due to Covid-19?

by Readers Question

8:36 AM, 22nd May 2020
About A week ago

Tenant may refuse to move due to Covid-19?

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Tenant may refuse to move due to Covid-19?

We have three very nice tenants (three individuals) in one of our rental properties who have stayed in the property for years.

We are currently selling this property and have found a buyer. The deal is fairly close to the position of exchanging the contracts and we have offered the tenants to move into another vacant rental property we own.

Previously all three were okay to move (though they prefer to stay in the current property) then Covid-19 happened and now one tenant has sent a text saying he is self isolating as he has Asthma and not working (though his employer is still paying him). He hasn’t refused to move as yet but think he may refuse to move until Covid-19 is over. Secondly the new property is too far from his place of work. This will scupper the deal on a property we have had trouble selling

Added problem is none of the tenants have AST agreements in place plus don’t think we can evict these tenants as will take too long to go down this route anyway.

Wondered if anyone had any suggestions. Maybe to give a couple months free rent in the new property?



Jim Littlehampton

16:16 PM, 23rd May 2020
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Jessie Jones at 23/05/2020 - 09:49
In hindsight we should have taken steps to get the house vacated before selling. I don't like the idea of paying the tenants to move out but may have no choice.

Anyway, so far they have been very helpful and while they prefer to stay they did no object to move out when we had a meeting pre-covid-19 as long as they did not pay more at the new property (which has been refurbished recently). My biggest concern is the third tenant who has Asthma. Previously he had no issues in moving and out of the three was more keen to move. Not any compensation may not be enough as he seems to be worried about Covid-19. I don't know if he has received a letter from the government to self isolate. He is young guy in this thirties and seems healthy.

Jim Littlehampton

16:24 PM, 23rd May 2020
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Puzzler at 23/05/2020 - 10:43
Thanks for the link. Yes we gave the notice pre-covid-19 but then told them to stay until this is over. Now the buyer is ready we are now concerned not just from our point of view but the buyers too who would have invested a lot of time and money already. It will be awful if this deal falls just because one of the tenant refuses to move because of Covid-19. Though I can understand the tenants concern as well if he does have severe Asthma (which we need to find out). I suppose in the same situation I would not move either. It maybe the case to see if the buyer can wait little longer until Covid-19 settles down.

Luke P

18:46 PM, 23rd May 2020
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Jim Littlehampton at 23/05/2020 - 16:24
No intention of being rude, but you seem oblivious to the absolute world of trouble you could potentially find yourself in. If I were advising the tenant, I am almost completely certain I could keep them in the property for *at least* 12 months, possibly far longer AND likely have them receive a substantial financial penalty from you.


20:35 PM, 23rd May 2020
About A week ago

Best option I believe is to move the tenants that are willing to move first then deal with the self-isolating one. Offer him an incentive such as a lower rent at the new property or pay him off.

In all cases this time make sure that you have tenancy agreements signed and protect the deposit or better still don't take a deposit and ask for two months rent in advance. If you ask for a deposit, after reading the conditions, the "good tenants" may turn out to be "not so good tenants" as they may demand three months rent for not protecting the last deposit at the old place.

Jim Littlehampton

20:40 PM, 29th May 2020
About 3 days ago

Thanks for the replies. Just to provide an update the tenants have agreed to move out 31st July which we have in writing but the issue now is the buyer who may feel two months is too long. Possibly issues with mortgage extension but I think most mortgage providers in the current crisis are being quite flexible ?


20:53 PM, 29th May 2020
About 3 days ago

Sorry to say this, but I think you should have taken my last advice as, if you moved the other two, you would have only one to contend with and you could have paid him off. You could have then exchanged and completed and saved on your mortgage payments if you had any.
What happens if in two months the tenants do not find anywhere to go to, even if you have it in writing, you would not able to get rid of them. As they are very good tenants, they may keep their word and move even if they don't have accommodation.
You did say you had a property for the tenants to move to, I think you should have done your best to move them to the other property just for the sake of protecting your sale
As a buyer, I would have felt it was far too long, and what if property prices begin to fall, will the buyer still go ahead?
If there was only one tenant you could take the chance to exchange anytime now & complete in two months time but that too is a risk.
Hopefully, it all works out for you.

Luke P

21:28 PM, 29th May 2020
About 3 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Jim Littlehampton at 29/05/2020 - 20:40
I’ll be blunt: you’re clueless. However, it is highly likely it will all resolve itself by them simply leaving when they’ve said, BUT…if they don’t, that ‘in writing’ agreement to leave means absolutely and precisely nothing (unless, of course, they’ve post-dated a Deed of Surrender…though even then if they don’t physically go, who you gonna have strong-arm them out the door)??

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