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For the latest in ARAG’s Talk to the Experts series of webinars, we assembled a team of specialists to talk about the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the private rental sector.

Our BTE Claims Manager, Heather Wilmot, hosted the roundtable with two barristers, two solicitors and a lettings agency owner.

There was broad consensus that early and open communication between landlords and tenants, ideally mediated by the agent, is the single most important factor in preventing disputes from escalating. The panel also warned that long delays in the courts made it all the more important to find a mutually satisfactory resolution without having to issue proceedings.

As well as providing legal advice and, if necessary, covering legal costs of up to £50,000, our Landlords’ Legal Solutions policy has also offered an alternative means of resolving disputes between landlords and their tenants since early in the pandemic.

Elizabeth Dwomoh, a barrister at Lamb Chambers, shared her experience of proceedings over the past, difficult year, including the new mediation process that has recently been launched to relieve pressure on the courts. Justin Bates is also a barrister, at Landmark Chambers, and outlined the most common challenges that tenants are facing at the moment.

Carly Jermyn and Paula Hebberd are both solicitors and directors at Woodstock Property Law. They talked about letting responsibilities and the difficulties landlords face when trying to recover properties and pursuing outstanding debts from tenants.

As well as being the owner of Votta Sales and Lettings, David Votta is the Vice-President of ARLA Propertymark, the professional and regulatory body for letting agents. He explained the situation facing many landlords and dispelled the widespread misconception that landlords are typically wealthy owners of numerous properties, and are often dependent on the income from just one or two properties.

The panel explained that the problems facing tenants, landlords and the courts are inevitably going to be with us for some time, and delved into some of the structural issues that have plagued the private rental sector for many years and which make both relief and reform unlikely in the near future.

We’d like to thank Elizabeth, Justin, Paula, Carly and David for taking the time to offer their invaluable insight and expertise in this important subject, and to everyone who attended the webinar.

Recording of the webinar

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.