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CASTLES DIRECTORS ANNOUNCEMENT

WE ARE STILL OPEN JUST NOT FROM THE USUAL PLACE

Since Boris Johnson’s announcement on 23rd March 2020 and in line with the latest guidance, the branches of Castles Estate Agents, incorporating, Residential Sales, Lettings and Surveying Department are now closed temporarily to the public and we will move to remote working across our team with immediate effect.

We are open for business but not from our usual place, the nature of the job that we perform means that we are exceptionally well-positioned to do this and for many of us this is nothing new.

We will endeavour to do our very best to be able to reach our clients within the next couple of days to explain what this means and how we can help.

Whether you are midway through a move, just thinking about it or simply need advice on what to do, we will be delighted to speak with you. As ever our advice will be informed by the latest thinking of our highly regarded residential team, by local market knowledge and insight, and of course, your individual circumstances.

It may help to know that we have been conducting viewings and market appraisals for some time, since the outbreak of COVID-19. However, following the most recent announcement, we are now unable to continue with the same currently but look forward to resuming our normal operations as soon as possible whilst following Government instructions.

Our substantial range of properties are still available to be viewed via our own web portal, Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location, On the Market and social channels 24/7 for you to browse.

We are ready, willing and able to assist and offer advice – now more than ever, our 39 years of experience matters, so please do contact us.

Please can you all take care of yourselves and follow the Government advice - we will beat this together.

GUIDELINES FOR TENANTS

Please see below the Government Guidelines issued with Landlords and tenants in mind. In these very difficult times, it is so important to keep us advised of any issues you have with paying your rent so that we can discuss your case with your own Landlord and work towards a solution until things go back to some form of normality.

Although our offices are closed, we are working from home and can be contacted on the usual number 02088041505.Please leave a message if the phones are busy, and we will call you back as soon as possible.
Please email Alex@castles.london Sertac@castles.london  or david@castles.london

For maintenance please email maintenance@castles.london and they will deal with any urgent or essential repairs.

Keep well and stay safe.
Letting & Management Team

The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect tenants in the private and social rented sectors from eviction during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 Landlords will have to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession of their property and they cannot apply to start the court process until after this period. After three months, if the tenant has not moved, the landlord can apply to court.

 This “extended buffer period” will apply from 26 March to 30 September 2020, but both this end point and the three-month notice period can be extended if needed. This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, all grounds of evictions, and possession of tenancies in the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988.

 The court service suspended all ongoing housing possession action on 27 March 2020, which means neither current cases or those about to go in the system will be able to progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. This suspension of housing possessions action will last for 90 days, but this can be extended if needed.

 Tenants are still liable for their rent during this time and should pay this as usual. If tenants are facing financial hardship and think they will have difficulty making a rental payment, they should speak to their landlord in the first instance. The government is encouraging tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme. However, there is other support available for tenants facing financial difficulties:

 · The government is working to widen the scope of the “pre-action protocol” on possession proceedings, traditionally only applicable to social tenants, to the private rented sector. This will encourage landlords and tenants to agree reasonable repayment plans where rent arrears may have arisen and avoid court proceedings.
 · A £500 Hardship Fund will go to local authorities in England so they can reduce the 2020 to 2021 council tax bills of working age people receiving Local Council Tax Support. Councils will also be able to use the funding to provide further discretionary support to vulnerable people.
 · Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme , the government will pay up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per month.
 · Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will increase and, from April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.

 During this time, “landlords remain legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard and urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made” to their properties. However, landlords and tenants should make agreements for non-urgent repairs to be done later.

 Landlords with buy-to-let mortgages will also be protected by a three-month mortgage payment holiday.
 This article is based on the “Government support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” guidance. It is intended as a guide only. It is not exhaustive and doesn't constitute legal advice. See gov.uk more information.
 
 Feel free to email us:- alex@castles.london  or david@castles.london with any questions you may have.

LATEST ADVICE ON HOUSE MOVING 

Government has issued advice through the media, speaking directly to buyers and sellers today. Their advice is:

•    There is no need to pull out of transactions.
•    Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance in this document on home removals.
 •    Where the property is currently occupied, we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures will no longer be in place.

In the new emergency enforcement powers that the police have been given to respond to Coronavirus, there is an exemption for critical home moves, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed.

Recognising parties will need to alter common practice, Government has sought to ease this process:
•    Issuing this guidance, developed with Public Health England, to home buyers and those involved in the selling and moving process;
•    Agreeing with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where delay to completions takes place in order to prioritise safety; and,
•    Working with Conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for moving completion dates.