Here is a question to the blog clinic from Gail (not her real name) who is a landlord:
I am an accidental landlord and my rental flat in London is my one and only private home.
I am returning from abroad after a traumatic totalitarian lockdown and desperately need my home back. My tenant is refusing to leave until coronavirus/state of crisis ends which from experience is indefinite. They are not currently financially struggling (I am) and the flat downstairs from mine is available at a reduced rent temporarily for them, but they ‘aren’t keen’ and forcing me to live there or in an AirB&B instead.
During my weeks of solitary totalitarian lockdown, my mental health suffered, and when I learned I had no home and no hope of getting my home back indefinitely, I feel almost suicidal.
The tenant is saying I can find temporary accommodation and move during the crisis – so I ask why can’t they? What assistance can I get to claim my home back? All the eviction courts are now closed too. Can I threaten to sue after the lockdown lifts for emotional damages? I feel like my home has been seized in a socialist coup.
I feel for you but this is a difficult time for everyone.
However, even in normal times, there is no way you can recover possession of your property without going through the eviction process, which generally takes in the region of six months, assuming nothing goes wrong.
The rules for recovery of property are set by the legislation and there is no provision for relaxing these to take account of the landlord’s circumstances, however unfortunate. It would be unfair if the security of tenants in their homes varied according to the personal circumstances of their landlord.
At the moment, of course, we are in the middle of a pandemic and are in lockdown to protect us from catching and spreading the coronavirus and overwhelming the NHS.
This is why the government has changed the law to increase notice periods and the courts have suspended all possession actions for 90 days from 27 March 2020. The government have also said that property moves should be avoided if at all possible.
In light of this, your tenants are doing the right thing by refusing to move during the pandemic.
I assume that their fixed term has ended but this will not end their tenancy as they will now have a periodic tenancy which will run from month to month (assuming they pay monthly).
I am afraid you will have to face the fact that your home is unavailable until such time as either your tenants are able to move, or until the courts lift their suspension on court proceedings and you are able to evict them through the courts. Although inevitably there will be long delays in eviction proceedings when that time comes.
It sounds however as if your tenants are paying their rent, in which case you should be able to afford to rent somewhere else, maybe the flat downstairs, for the time being.