Experts agree on how landlords and tenants can best address the challenges created by the pandemic.

Our latest 'Talk with the Experts' webinar brought together a team of specialists from across the private rental sector to talk about the impact that the pandemic is having on both landlords and tenants. Our Claims Operations Manager, Heather Wilmot hosted the roundtable, which benefitted from the expertise of two barristers, two solicitors and a lettings agency owner, who all work in this important area.

Watch the full recording of the webinar below:

Heather has a lot of experience in this field herself, having worked on before-the-event legal expenses insurance claims for almost 15 years, and with ARAG for over a decade. Our Landlords’ Legal Solutions policy provides legal advice and, if necessary, indemnifies up to £50,000 in legal costs to resolve a dispute between landlord and tenant.

Throughout the discussions, there was clear consensus that communication between landlords and tenants is, far and away, the most important factor in preventing disputes from getting out of hand. Members of the panel also warned that the significant delays in judicial proceedings mean that taking matters to court is unlikely to provide a swift and satisfactory outcome for landlords.

Elizabeth Dwomoh, who is a barrister at Lamb Chambers, shared her experiences of conducting legal proceedings during the past 12 months, as well as talking about a new mediation process that has been introduced to help reduce the number of cases joining the significant court backlog. Another barrister, Justin Bates of Landmark Chambers, outlined the various challenges that tenants are currently facing.

Both of them directors at ARAG partner law firm Woodstock Property Law, Paula Hebberd and Carly Jermyn are also solicitors. They explained how the responsibilities that landlords have to tenants still need to be fulfilled, even while rent may be in arrears, and talked about some of the difficulties landlords will face pursuing outstanding debts and trying to recover their property from a tenant.

David Votta owns Votta Sales and Lettings and is the Vice-President of ARLA Propertymark, the regulatory and professional body for agents. David took a moment to dispel the commonly held belief that landlords are all wealthy, professional owners with large portfolios of property, because most are amateur or ‘accidental’ landlords who are likely to be financially dependent on the income they receive from just one or two let properties.

It was clear from the discussion that the various financial and practical problems facing landlords, tenants and the court system will persist for the foreseeable future. The panel went on to debate some of the causes of the problems that predate the pandemic, including the structural issues that have been plaguing the private rental sector for decades and are unlikely to see reform anytime soon.

Early in the pandemic, ARAG worked with Woodstock to provide alternative means of resolving tenancy disputes. A new process has enabled thousands of landlords and tenants to reach mutually agreeable terms on which to continue or end their tenancies, in the extremely challenging circumstances that 2020 presented.

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