Communication is key
Questions which you may wish to ask of landlords, tenants or applicants include:
- have you travelled overseas since the beginning of the year?
- have you been in contact with anyone who has tested positive or is in the process of being tested for the virus?
Gas appliances and flues must be checked for safety at intervals of no more than 12 months. Although not doing this is a criminal offence, it is a defence if agents can show that they “took all reasonable steps to prevent” not being able to complete an inspection. Make sure you:
- keep records of any discussions that take place with tenants who are self-isolating
- advise contractors that they should not be putting themselves at risk
- arrange an inspection as soon as the period of self-isolation is over.
Moving in and moving out
Move-ins and move-outs can be conducted in the usual way as long as all parties are happy and comfortable with it. Alternatively arrange for keys to be collected from your office and for tenants to return inventories to you marked with any differences. Similarly, check out inspections can be completed after tenants have returned keys to you.
If a tenant or landlord tells you that they are self-isolating, make a record and rearrange appointments. Keep everyone informed so they know what you are doing and why.
Rent of course remains payable.
Make sure you continue to communicate regularly with tenants, including providing clear information about the tenancy agreement and the unpaid rent; sources of help and advice on eligibility for housing benefit and other types of financial assistance. Any rent outstanding during this period will still be due for payment and landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan.
The Government has announced that emergency legislation will be brought in to stop landlords from starting eviction proceedings for at least a three-month period. However, the dates are yet to be confirmed. For more information click here.
Repairs must be completed within a reasonable time of being notified by the tenant, or otherwise becoming aware, that the work is required. If the tenant is self-isolating, record this, confirm in writing and arrange for the repair once the period of self-isolation is over. In emergency circumstances, all reasonable attempts should be undertaken to complete the repair or to at the very least make safe pending the isolation period.
- Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
- NHS guidance: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- Propertymark guidance: https://www.propertymark.co.uk/working-in-the-industry/covid-19/