Coronavirus - how does this impact landlords? Part 1

This is an uncertain time, and rules and regulations are constantly changing and being introduced since the coronavirus outbreak began. One of the best ways, as a landlord or agent, that you can protect yourselves and your tenants is to keep up to date with all the latest information. That is why we have compiled important information to help you in these unprecedented times.

On 23 March it was announced that the UK was under a police-enforced lockdown. This means that people should only leave their house for one of four reasons:

  1. Buying necessities such as food and medicine as infrequently as possible
  2. One form of daily exercise
  3. Providing or receiving medical care or to help a vulnerable person
  4. Travelling to work if you can’t work from home and only where this is absolutely necessary

These measures have been put in place to help limit the spread of coronavirus, so as a landlord or agent, how does this impact you?

Should you visit your tenants or properties?

The Coronavirus Act 2020 does not change landlords and agents obligations on property repairs that are outlined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, s.11. However, during the current pandemic, you should only visit properties to conduct repairs which are deemed essential, these are repairs that if not completed would put your tenants at risk. If you find yourself needing to visit properties for essential repairs you should ensure you are following social distancing rules at all times.

It is also advisable to check in advance whether anyone is self-isolating or experiencing any symptoms. If the answer is yes, think carefully as to whether the work can wait until their self-isolation period is over.

Should gas safety inspections still go ahead?

Landlords should make every effort to comply with the law regarding gas safety. Gas safety inspections can still be completed with the express consent of both the engineer and tenants. Engineers entering a property must use personal protective equipment as well as ensuring they keep 2 meters apart from others.

Routine gas inspections may be postponed however emergency and urgent appointments will still go ahead; engineers can withdraw from the inspection and reschedule if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time.

If a gas inspection has had to be postponed, document why you have done this and keep a clear record of your communications with all parties and the decisions that you’ve made.

Can tenants still move in and out?

House moves have not strictly been banned, however, the Government has advised all moves to be delayed wherever this is possible. If you have tenants who are due to move in or out in the near future you should get in contact with them as soon as possible and work together to find a solution that is suitable for all parties, this could involve shifting the start or end dates of tenancies.

If a tenant has no option but to move during the lockdown period, be mindful that coronavirus can remain infectious for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces; countertops, door knobs and white goods could pose a serious risk. It would be advisable to leave the property vacant for 72 hours before performing a deep clean and moving in new tenants to minimise any spread of the virus.

This is a stressful and difficult time for a lot of people and your tenants may be feeling the pressure too. Keep regular and open communication channels with your tenants so they feel they can talk to you with any concerns and look for solutions to any problems that work for all parties all whilst following government guidelines.

You can also check GOV.UK website for the latest changes.

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