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New Landlord Guidance (plus Landlord Legislation: Coronavirus Act 2020)

New landlord legislation and guidance has been issued by central Government as part of the continued response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We thought it would be worthwhile to summarise this in a blog post in order that the necessary arrangements can be put in place and so we can all remain ahead of the curve.

Landlords can find the full guidance here, but I have also listed some of the key procedures and changes below.

Minimising Health Risks

We all have a duty to minimise health risks. This applies to ourselves, our tenants and our contractors. The key message is that we should all stay at home wherever possible. That being said, the reality is that in the private rental sector this isn’t always completely straightforward.

When self managing, you should open up communications with your tenant(s) quickly. Be certain that they are clear on the measures in place for self isolation, should the need arise. This is even more important in shared houses where risks are heightened. You may want to send details of the official government guidance to your tenant(s) as a means of further encouraging this.

In the event that a tenant is self isolating you should avoid anyone visiting the property wherever possible.

 

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Possession Claims

New temporary legislation came into force on 25 March 2020 which affects both landlords and tenants. The legislative changes can be summarised as follows:

– Notice periods for possession of a property have been extended and must now be for 3 months (as opposed to the normal 2 month notice period).

– All current possession cases have been suspended for 90 days from March 27th 2020.

– Buy-to-let mortgage lenders are to allow 3 month mortgage holidays. This is on the basis of the tenant(s) also having been offered a rent holiday.

If you are thinking of serving notice on your tenant(s) to leave, we would highly recommend that you seek the relevant legal advice in the first instance to ensure that this is feasible and is done using the correct methods.

Full details of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and how this affects landlord legislation can be found here.

Property Management

The changes required to successfully manage a property are now quite far reaching, and these range from the initial marketing & viewings right through to gas certificates, right to rent checks and electrical safety. I have listed each topic with a brief summary below.

Marketing / Viewings: Minimise contact with others. Video / virtual viewings are now recommended. New move-in’s should be avoided where possible.

Check Ins / Check Outs: Again, minimise contact wherever possible. We are having all documents signed digitally. Key handovers can be done using methods in line with social distancing. In HMO’s, you should ensure that all other tenants have been asked to avoid communal spaces during the appointment.

Repairs: Only essential works should be carried out. The key here is to ensure that records are kept of any and all required repairs and then take a risk based approach when deciding on whether or not these should be done. You should also ensure that all parties involved are not showing symptoms of coronavirus and document this.

Right to Rent checks / follow ups: Right to Rent procedures have been relaxed a little in order to avoid face to face contact. Checks should be done via video call / facetime, with the addition of scanned documentation and clear records being kept.

Gas Safety: There is still a responsibility to ensure that gas safety is checked within properties on an annual basis, unless it can be evidenced that access was not possible.

Electrical Safety: New regulations are still set to go ahead as of July 1st 2020. No new tenancy can be granted without an up to date electrical inspection report having been carried out. Works must be carried out on any properties which fail on these inspections.

EPCs: New EPC regulations came into force yesterday, on 1st April 2020. The regulations state that no existing tenancy can continue unless the property has an EPC rating of E or above. We will be sending further communications on this in the coming days.

 

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Summary

Whilst it might appear that the world is in hibernation currently, landlords still have a duty to ensure that regulations are being followed.  I think it’s safe to say that the current Coronavirus restrictions are likely to remain in place for many more weeks or months too.

For more information on landlord legislation please head over to our legislation page here.

There is no better time than now to ensure that your property – and the procedures you have in place to manage it – are fair, safe and compliant. If you would like further advice on the letting or management of your property call us today on 0115 981 9651. If you would prefer to speak to me personally then you can do so on 07530 298 729.

Kind Regards,

 

 

 

 

Will Brandley
Director