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 my landlord carry out repairs needed in my home?

If you are not shielding or self-isolating, you can allow local authorities, landlords or contractors access to your home in order to carry out a range of works. This includes:

  • routine inspections, including annual gas safety checks;
  • essential and non-essential repairs and maintenance; and
  • planned maintenance activity inside and outside the home.

Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople are expected to follow advice on staying alert and staying safe (social distancing) and guidance for professionals working in people’s homes.

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 acknowledges there may be 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.  You can contact the Council on 0208 753 1081 or phs@lbhf.gov.uk

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 came 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 from 1 July 2020 and for existing tenancies from 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 report to 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 tenants.

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

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 share with people you are not related to and if one or more occupants have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), all the occupants of the home should behave in the same way as a single household. You should self-isolate at home for 10 days from when the symptoms started. All other residents of the home must also stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days, providing they remain well for that time. Should they develop symptoms they should then self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or longer if symptoms persist. Where possible, individuals should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home.

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.

I’m struggling to pay my rent 

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.  

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

More information and support for landlords and renters can be found on the gov.uk website and also on Shelter’s website.