The Corona Virus Pandemic has had a huge impact on how we all work and live, and we understand that this poses particular problems for Private Landlords trying to manage their property businesses.   The Government has released some useful guidance aimed at both landlords and tenants, you can read the full guidance here however we want to try and answer some of the more frequent questions we are being asked.

What if my tenants stop paying the rent?

The Government has revealed a whole raft of measures to prevent anyone losing their home due to Corona Virus.   This includes extras resources to help people who have lost their income or had their income reduced.

Tenants are being advised that they should pay their rent as normal.  If their income has changed they should look to claim benefits , there is guidance on how to do this here.

If your tenant stops paying their rent, or tells you they are worried about how they will make future payment please let us know at privaterentedservice@newcastle.gov.uk

What about property visits?

Unless you need to attend a property to carry out essential repairs you should not carry out any property visits.  If you have routine property visits scheduled telephone of email your tenant and ask them if there are any repairs or maintenance that require urgent attention.

My tenant has reported an emergency repair, what should i do?

Its is important that properties are kept in a safe and free from disrepair and there may be repairs that come up during this period of social distancing meaning you will need to attend a property to asses and carry out work.

  • Before you visit check if anyone at the property is self isolating or is displaying any symptoms.
  • Do not attend the property if you yourself are unwell, get someone else to do this for you.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before attending the property.
  • Ask the tenants to go into another room while you carry out the repairs.
  • Only take people who need to be there, if your workman carries out the work, do you need to attend as well?
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after any visit.

May annual gas safety check is due, what should i do?

It is important that your properties are kept safe, the The Health and Safety Executive have released a statement with regards to Gas Safety checks: “Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check.

In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g., refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This will need to include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineers attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available.

If you anticipate difficulties in gaining access as the COVID-19 situation progresses, you have the flexibility to carry out annual gas safety checks two months before the deadline date. Landlords can have the annual gas safety checks at their properties carried out any time from 10 to 12 calendar months after the previous check and still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check.

The Gas Safe Register have published some very helpful guidance on their website aimed at both landlords and Gas Safe Engineers carrying out inspections.

I have tenants due to move in/ out in the next few weeks, how can I manage things like inventories and tenancy agreements?

Following the recent lock down that saw so many of us staying indoors, you will be aware that the Government has released new rules and guidance to start and slowly get the Country moving again.  We can now go for more than one walk a day, those who can’t work from home can go back to their work places and gardens centres can reopen.  This will provide some relief for many, for the housing market rules have also been relaxed around sales and lettings.

Importantly for landlords this means tenants can start and move again, landlords and agents can show properties and you can attend empty properties to start and get them ready to let.

The new rules are:

You can undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property—

(i) visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;

(ii) viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;

(iii) preparing a residential property to move in;

(iv) moving home;

(v) visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property;

You can see the full guidance here,  obviously all this should be done while staying alert, staying safe and observing Social Distancing.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme have published some excellent advice on how to manage incoming and outgoing inventories and new tenancy sign ins.