16th May 2020
The Government has permitted property transactions to resume in England with effect fro the 12th of May 2020 following almost two months of lockdown which brought the lettings market largely to a standstill and also put all but essential property repairs on hold. Revised regulations issued by Public Health England now permit the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property:
- Visiting estate or letting agents’ offices.
- Viewing residential property for the purposes of buying or renting that property.
- Preparing a residential property for move in.
- Moving home.
- Visiting residential property to undertake any activities for the rental or sale of the property.
In addition, conveyancing firms and removal firms have been given the green light to return to work.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the changes must be carried out under strict social distancing and safety rules and that all guidance from Public Health England must continue to be followed. "Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process, from viewings to removals," Mr Jenrick said.
If you are letting out a property, or thinking of letting out a property, you will naturally have questions about what to expect under the new guidance and regulations. Here are our answers to some of the important questions that you might have:
Is your office now open?
Answer – We are currently providing a full suite of services to clients and our office will be open again from Monday 18th May, however all in person meetings will be conducted in accordance with strict social distancing and public health advice. The safety of staff, clients and the general public remains paramount.
Have you trained all of your staff on the required safety measures for viewings and face to face meetings?
Answer – Yes, each team member has been briefed on the current health requirements and procedures for undertaking face to face meetings.
I have been waiting to put my property on the market to let – am I now able to proceed?
Answer – Yes, you can now place your property on the market and we can find a tenant for you. Please contact us and we will go through with you the safest way to undertake a valuation, obtain photos etc. If the property is vacant, then coordination of photos and viewings will be more straightforward. If the property is currently tenanted, we will need to ensure that strict health guidance is followed during any in person meetings or property visits.
Will you be checking to see if any potential tenant visiting the property has symptoms of the virus?
Answer – Yes, we will be asking anyone attending a viewing to confirm that they do not have symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone who had symptoms for the last 14 days.
My current tenant wants to vacate the property, are they able to do so?
Answer - Yes, providing that your current tenant serves notice and vacates in accordance with the terms of their tenancy agreement, they are are able to move out. Removal firms are now working again.
The current tenant has symptoms of the virus, will you be able visit the property to show a new tenant around?
Answer – No, if anyone at the property has symptoms, we will not be able to visit for 14 days.
What happens if the current tenant is classified as a 'vulnerable person'?
Answer – We will not be able to attend your property if there is a vulnerable person residing there. This will continue to be the case until the Government advises otherwise.
Will you be wearing protective clothing when you attend our property?
Answer – Yes, we will wear a face mask and gloves.
What about social distancing?
Answer – We will be arranging all property visits and face to face meetings in accordance with social distancing and other health advisories. Ahead of any visit, we will coordinate with you and/or your current tenant to determine how the visit can be safely undertaken in accordance Government guidelines.
How many people will be allowed to visit the property at any one time?
Answer – We will be limiting the number of people that can attend the property to ensure that we can adhere to social distancing and other health advice. Ahead of a visit we will contact any existing tenant to understand whether they will be present for the viewing. It might be the case that we will need to show viewers from the same family around separately which means that viewings could take longer than normal.
What can my current tenant do to prepare?
Answer – We will coordinate with any existing tenant to ensure the viewing is conducted safely for example, by requesting the tenant leave doors open between rooms and to large storage areas. If the weather allows, by opening windows to increase ventilation. We will also be requesting that any person viewing the property minimise what they touch.
Can you still offer virtual viewings?
Answer – Yes, we can still offer these services and will indeed continue to do so especially where there are ongoing concerns about in person meetings and viewings.
My tenant is in arrears - what happens now?
Answer - We are working proactively with all tenants that have fallen into arrears due to being adversely impacted by the Coronavirus. If this has happened for a property that we manage on your behalf, then we will have contacted you to agree a repayment plan to allow the tenant to catch up on overdue rent when their financial circumstances return to normal.
I want to evict my tenant, am I able to?
Answer - All current possession proceedings are suspended for at least 90 days from March 27th 2020. For further information, please see here:
Is rental guarantee insurance now available?
Answer - Yes - this insurance is now available. Please contact us if you would like us to place this insurance for you.
What about repairs and maintenance to my property?
Answer - We are still operating an 'essential repairs policy' only, meaning that any non essential repairs are being put on hold until they can be undertaken safely. Any contractor visiting the property must comply with Government Guidance for working in other people's homes.
What about Gas Safety certificates.
Answer - The Government has advised that it is still necessary to undertake vital inspections and safety checks of rented property. We will try to coordinate any gas safety checks to take place between tenancies. If this is not possible, they will be arranged in accordance with Government guidance.
What about an energy performance certificate?
Answer - If your EPC expires, then we will coordinate for a new one to be undertaken when the current tenant moves out and before the property is re-tenanted. Please be aware that minimum energy performance requirements for rented property have recently been updated.
I understand that electrical checks are to be required as well - how will you deal with that?
Answer - The Government is introducing the requirement that the significant majority of properties in the Private Rented Sector have a valid electrical safety inspection report which is renewed every 5 years. This requirement is currently scheduled to take effect from July 1. We will be contacting all landlords over the next few months to ensure they are in compliance with new requirements.
Will you be conducting routine inspections of my property?
Answer - At this point in time, routine inspections are still on hold. If there is reason to suspect that there is a problem at a property, then we will schedule an inspection. Once lockdown rules are further eased, we will be visiting all properties to undertake a thorough inspection.