16th May 2020
If you are a tenant looking for a property, the good news is that the Government has permitted property transactions to resume in England with effect from the 12th of May 2020 following almost two months of lockdown. In addition, 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 a current tenant of a property that we manage, or you are a tenant looking for a new 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 landlords and tenants and our office is 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.
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 all parties to determine how the visit can be safely undertaken in accordance Government guidelines.
Will you be wearing protective clothing when you attend a viewing with me or attend a property I currently live at?
Answer – Yes, we will wear a face mask and gloves.
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.
Tenants wanting to move home
I have been waiting to look for a new property to rent – am I now able to start looking?
Answer – Yes, you can now look for a new property to rent, undertake viewings and arrange removals if you can do so safely. If we are advertising a property you would like to view, please contact us and we will go through the safest way to undertake the viewing with you. If the property is vacant, then this 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.
Are there any changes to the application process?
The application process remains broadly consistent with our normal procedures including all tenant checks. We have revised some of our policies to take account of social distancing and health guidance. We will go though the application process with you once you are ready to apply.
I have had symptoms of Covid-19 - will I be able to undertake a viewing?
Answer - No, if you have shown any signs or symptoms of the virus or have been in contact with anyone that has symptoms, you should not undertake a viewing for 14 days. When you inquire about a property to rent through us, we will ask you to confirm that you do not have symptoms of the virus.
Will you be checking to see if the current tenant of any property I will be viewing has symptoms of the virus?
Answer – Yes, we will be asking anyone living at the property we will be viewing to confirm that they do not have symptoms of the virus and have not been in contact with anyone who has symptoms during the last 14 days.
What happens if the current tenant is classified as a 'vulnerable person'?
Answer – We will not be able to attend a property if there is a vulnerable person residing there. This will continue to be the case until the Government advises otherwise.
Can I take my family to view the property?
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 members of your family around separately which means that viewings could take longer than normal.
What can I do to prepare?
Answer – Make sure that you wash your hands before a viewing and minimise what you touch while in the property. Carry some antibacterial hand gel for use after the viewing. If possible, wear gloves and a face mask. Ensure that when undertaking the viewing that you observe social distancing guidelines.
I want to vacate my current property, am I able to do so?
Answer - Yes, providing that you serve notice and vacate in accordance with the terms of your tenancy agreement, you are are able to move out. Removal firms are now working again.
I am going to vacate my current property - do I have to allow potential new tenants to enter for viewings?
Answer - We will work with you to arrange viewings of the property by interested new tenants. We will seek to keep any viewings to a minimum by pre-screening applicants. We will work with you to ensure that any viewings are undertaken in accordance with Government health advice. We will not attend your property if you are showing symptoms of the virus or have been in contact with someone who has shown symptoms over the last 14 days. We will also not attend your property if a 'vulnerable person' lives there.
I am in arrears - what happens now?
Answer - You should not stop paying rent, or pay less than the amount due unless your financial circumstances have been impacted by the Coronavirus and you are no longer able to pay. If this is the case, then please contact us so we can agree a plan with you and your landlord including when you can make catch up payments after your circumstances return to normal.
What about repairs and maintenance to the property I am renting?
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.
Will there be any other essential inspections?
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 tenants over the next few months to arrange for this inspection (where necessary).
Will you be conducting routine inspections of my rented 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 routine inspections.