LANDLORDS and tenants are being urged to communicate with one another if there are problems paying rent during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Oxford Tenants Union has been running a campaign urging renters in the city to text their landlord if they have lost their job and are struggling for money,

Meanwhile, one landlord has described his experience of renting out properties and said communication was the only way for people to get through the 'nightmare we are all facing'.

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OTU, a group which works to represent the needs of tenants in the city, has started running a campaign called #txtalandlord.

Many tenants in the city have lost their jobs in recent weeks due to lockdown measures which have meant most businesses have had to shut their doors.

The idea behind the campaign is to encourage close and open communication between landlords and tenants throughout the coronavirus crisis.

The aims of this is to prevent evictions following the three-month grace period announced by the government and for renters and landlords to be able to come to other agreements during the lockdown.

On its Facebook page, OTU said: "Across Oxford, we're hearing stories of landlords who have proactively reached out to their tenants to reassure them that they won't need to pay rent if their income collapses as a result of the coronavirus.

"This kindness means that renters, who are some of the most precariously employed workers in our city of sky-high rents, are prevented from making the potentially lethal decision to prioritise work over health.

"It's time to #txtalandlord you know asking them to do the same."

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An Oxford landlord agreed with the sentiment of the campaign, and said he had already been working with his tenants who lost jobs on a similar basis.

The landlord, who did not want to be named, said: "It is a nightmare we are all facing. As landlords we are going to listen to our tenants: We all have families, we understand."

He explained he had come to an arrangement with a tenant at an HMO he owned who had lost his job as taxi driver so that he would only pay half of the usual £500 a month rent.

He added he helped his tenant to claim universal credit and housing benefit.

He explained he and other landlords would not be able to stop charging rent entirely because of 'statutory overhead costs' which they had to continue paying on the houses they own, including fire safety certificates, HMO licences, and maintenance costs.

While he welcomed the government's announcement of a mortgage holiday, he was sceptical as to whether lenders would be willing to offer it.

He added that he hoped the government would consider temporarily stopping section 24 of the Finance Act 2015, also known as the tenant tax.

This means landlords have to pay tax on the interest accrued on the mortgages they have on properties they rent out.