Coronavirus (COVID 19): information and guidance for landlords and tenants

The situation with coronavirus is changing daily and we are aware that you may be feeling concerned. You can find the latest information on the situation in the UK on the gov.uk website. For information on symptoms, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you think you might have coronavirus, visit the NHS coronavirus webpage.

On this page we have answered some of the questions you may have as a landlord or a tenant. The full guidance from the government can be found on GOV.UK - COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

Can I still contact my landlord about repairs needed in my home?

During this time, landlords are still required to carry out essential works such as water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage problems, pest control and heating failure.

Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople are expected to follow advice on social distancing.

Non-essential work and repairs will not be required to be carried out during this time. However please still report any issues to your landlord so you have a record of the report, and the works should then be carried out when the risk of coronavirus has been reduced.

My landlord wants to come in and carry out repairs – should I let him?

Landlords can only come in to carry out essential works. Routine tenancy inspections, viewings towards the end of your tenancy and all non-essential work should not be taking place during this period.

Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement and you should allow access for these if you are not self-isolating (see below).

My landlord wants to come to my house, but I am self-isolating because of coronavirus – can I refuse access?

If you are self-isolating you are advised to avoid any visitors to your home, so please tell your landlord or agent that you are self- isolating. Except in an emergency, you can ask your landlord to postpone the time for the work to be done.  Examples of emergencies are water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage problems, pest control and heating failure. 

If an emergency repair is needed in a self-isolating household, you and your landlord should assess this on a case by case basis, following public health advice. We strongly advise you take additional measures such as remaining in separate rooms during any visits and following government advice on hygiene and cleanliness before, during and after visits. You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs.

Can I complain to the council if my landlord won’t deal with my repairs?

The council are continuing to provide a complaint response service on 0208 753 1081 or phs@lbhf.gov.uk to tenants during this period as part of our commitment to ensure all tenants have a safe place to live, but house visits and inspections are generally not being carried out.

The council acknowledges the current limitations in terms of contractors’ availabillity, but does expect landlords to carry out essential works. Where necessary we may still take enforcement action if a landlord fails unreasonably to carry out essential works.

What about legal obligations to provide regular gas and electrical safety inspections?

Landlords should make every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations and electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July 2020. A gas safety inspection is required at intervals of no more than 12 months. Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations will apply to all new tenancies on 1 July 2020 and for existing tenancies on 1 April 2021. Landlords will be required 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 reportto tenants, and to the local authority if requested
  • If the reports requires investigative or remedial works, landlords will have to make sure this is done.

If the landlord is 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 landlords document all attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants.

How can I protect myself in a shared house or flat?

It is good practice to try and reduce social interaction with others, including others who might be sharing your home. Please read the latest government guidance on protecting people most at risk. If you live with a person who has been identified by the NHS as at risk of serious illness due to coronavirus or someone who might have coronavirus please refer to this stay at home guidance.

If you have been advised to self-isolate, wherever possible, you should separate yourself from other people in your household. In shared flats or houses this can be challenging. You should minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated. Ensure regular cleaning of shared spaces including all surfaces.

If you think you may have the virus, you should tell anyone you share the property with immediately, so that they can take appropriate action and make informed decisions regarding shared areas and access to the property. If your landlord needs to arrange a visit to the property for urgent health and safety reasons, you should also inform them and agree to take sensible precautions.

If you share a toilet and or bathroom, it is important that you clean them after you have used them every time (for example wiping surfaces you have come in contact with). You could consider drawing up a rota for showering or bathing, with the tenant self-isolating using the facilities last, before they thoroughly clean the shower, bath, sink and toilet.

If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it whilst others are present. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery.

You can find government guidance on cleaning your home to minimise the risk of infection.

Someone in my shared house or flat has the virus, is my landlord obliged to remove them or find me another place to stay?

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. If you are living in accommodation which you share with other people, or share facilities with other people, you should follow current Public Health England guidance on protecting older people and vulnerable adults.

I’m struggling to pay my rent because of coronavirus

Speak to your landlord if you're struggling to pay rent. They could be sympathetic especially if you've lost your job or seen your income reduce suddenly. They might agree to a rent reduction or accept a late payment to your rent. Get any agreement in writing.

Buy to let landlords may get mortgage payment holidays if their tenants have financial problems due to coronavirus.  

Shelter and Citizens’ Advice also have good advice on their websites about how to deal with rent arrears and claiming benefits.

What if I have already had notice from my landlord?

Housing possession claims have been suspended from 27 March and under new legislation, most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three months’ notice. This means that landlords cannot evict their tenants whilst this national emergency is taking place.

More information on protection from eviction during this national emergency can be found on the gov.uk website and also on Shelter’s website.

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