Covid 19 guidance for landlords
Property access and health and safety obligations – Landlord summary
- Landlords and tenants should work together and take a pragmatic and common sense approach
- Landlord repair obligations have not changed. Tenants continue to have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live
- Landlords should consider using smartphones or other technology to enable inspections of reported problems
- Inspectors or maintenance workers can still visit for essential or urgent work
- Keep documentation of all your correspondence with tenants and contractors
- Landlords cannot remove anyone from the property because of the virus
- Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus
The Government has produced non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors on property access and health and safety obligations in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
Property access and health and safety obligations
The Government is asking everyone to do all they can to help stop coronavirus spreading and has published advice on maintaining strict separation from others wherever possible during this unprecedented time. You can see the latest Government guidance on Coronavirus here www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
As part of the national effort to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak it’s vital that local authorities, landlords and tenants work together to keep rented properties safe. It has never been more important that landlords and tenants take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to resolving issues. Tenants should let their landlords know early if there is a problem and landlords should take the appropriate action.
Stroud District Council is taking a pragmatic approach to enforcement, as recommended by the Government. This means that tenants who are living with serious hazards that a landlord has failed to remedy can still be assured of support. In addition, landlords will not be unfairly penalised where COVID-19 restrictions prevent them from meeting some routine obligations.
What does the current situation mean for repairs to my property?
- Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed. Tenants have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live
- Good management requires regular review and maintenance of a property, but we understand that planned inspections may be more difficult at this time. Technological solutions such as smartphones can be used to reduce the need for in-person inspections of property issues.
- Where reasonable and safe for you, and in line with other Government guidance, you should make every effort to review and address issues brought to your attention by your tenants, and keep records of your efforts. You can find further guidance on visiting properties to make repairs here www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance
- Please apply common sense to non-urgent issues
- Inspectors or maintenance workers can still visit for essential or urgent work such as inspecting and testing fire alarm and emergency lighting systems.
- Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect your tenant’s ability to live safely and maintain their mental and physical health in the property. This could include:
− Structural problems, for example the roof is leaking
− The boiler is broken
− There is a plumbing issue
− The fridge or washing machine you have provided as part of the tenancy have broken
− A broken window or external door has made the property insecure
− Equipment a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair
What about my legal obligations to provide regular gas and electrical safety inspections? Will I be prosecuted if I can’t get access because I or my tenants are self-isolating?
- Landlords must provide tenants with all necessary gas and electrical safety and any other relevant certification at the beginning of a tenancy.
- Landlords should make every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations and electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July 2020.
- You can read the latest guidance for landlords and Gas Safe engineers and inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive here www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/
- If you are not able to gain access to the property due to restrictions in place to tackle COVID-19, or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, we recommend you document your attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants.
Electrical and gas safety in privately rented properties
The new Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020 were made on 18 March and will apply to all new tenancies on 1 July 2020 and for existing tenancies on 1 April 2021. They will require landlords to:
- Have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years;
- Provide a copy of the report (known as the Electrical Safety Condition Report or EICR) to their tenants, and to the local authority if requested.
- If the EICR requires investigative or remedial works, landlords will have to carry this out.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 require landlords to have annual gas safety checks on each appliance and flue carried out by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register and to keep a record of each safety check. Further advice can be found on the Gas Safe Register’s website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/.
What about the risk of catching the virus?
- You must follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when you or contractors or others are visiting the property, as outlined in public health guidance here:
What about access to a property to conduct viewings or where a move is scheduled?
- Government has advised against home moves wherever possible. See separate advice here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
- We recommend that landlords and tenants engage constructively about access to a property, and that it is only proposed for serious and urgent issues. Follow the Government’s latest guidance on distancing measures necessary to help stop the spread of the virus here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
- This means that no one should visit the property to conduct viewings, or anything else which is not urgent and health and safety-related.
- Home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new home while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus.
- If moving is unavoidable, people must follow advice on maintaining strict separation to minimise the spread of the virus.
- Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move home for the time being.
- Where moves do need to go ahead, all those involved should take care to follow Government guidance here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
Someone in my House in Multiple Occupation has the virus, am I obliged to remove them or find my tenants another place to stay?
- The Government has issued specific guidance on what to do if someone in your household has contracted the virus, including self-isolating the whole household for 14 days. You can find that guidance here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
- Nobody can be removed from their home because of the virus.
- Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus.
- You may wish to direct your tenants to Government guidance on cleanliness and hygiene for non-medical locations here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings