Coronavirus and landlords

.   Do visit this page regularly as we will update it to reflect any changes in circumstances.

Our guiding principle: We have developed a policy and procedures that have two aims. The first is to help protect all of us from becoming infected and avoid us infecting each other. The second is to encourage everyone to abide as far as possible with the “Stay at home!” instructions. By “all of us” we mean everyone at Your Lets, tradespeople, tenants, landlords, all our families and friends and the wider community.

Always bearing that in mind – we are still working full time managing your property and your tenancies to try and minimise any adverse effects on everyone concerned.

As far as possible we are working from home using many systems already in place.

Due to the coronavirus and the strict instruction to stay at home and physically isolate as much as possible there are obvious consequences for you and us in all these areas: rents, inspections, marketing, viewings, lettings, checkouts, maintenance, repairs and safety checks for gas and electricity. UK Gov has released a Guidance for landlords and tenants consolidating all the various provisions being made. Like this page, and the UK Gov documents, it is always worth while re-visiting them from time to time as they are subject to change.

Rents: Thus far we have seen, in general, no significant disruption to rents but next month may tell a very different story. We have written to all our tenants giving them preliminary guidance on what they should be doing if they are out of work. A copy of that letter is here and there is much more for the tenants on that page.

We understand that UK Gov has suggested implementing rent holidays to match your mortgage interest holidays, if any.

Of course that will help tenants in the short term but will in fact build up arrears for them to deal with once work is restarted. For this reason we are doing all we can to encourage tenants to apply for Universal Credit or and Discretionary Housing Payments. Should a request for a rent holiday be made we will of course gather what information we can and discuss it with you.

Inspections: routine ones of tenanted properties – that’s easy – they are completely suspended while the requirement to Stay at Home! is in force. If it is relaxed it will then become dependent on the status of the household with respect to infections past or present. As for inspections of empty properties – not at all. Please do note that while a property is empty it is the entire responsibility of the landlord unless a specific contractual arrangement is made with us. We have, quite informally, done a lot of work for landlords in the past during void periods – but, regrettably, that has now got to change.

Marketing: we will not go out to take pictures of properties and draw up particulars of newly available properties. At this stage we strongly advise against putting them online. Online adverts get maximum response in the first few days. Getting interest without being able to view or let means that that interest would be wasted. By all means take on new properties – if you can complete a purchase – but you will have to wait until the movement restrictions are relaxed before we will consider marketing it.

Viewings: we will not be conducting viewings except in extreme circumstances – see lettings below.

Lettings: the only time we will consider these is if, in consultation with the authorities, there is a properly documented strong health or domestic reason why someone should move. For instance a vulnerable elderly couple might need their children and grandchildren to move out of their shared house. Any such move would depend on us being able to engage all the relevant people to make the house ready for occupation and give a proper start to the tenancy.

Checkouts: we will not be attending these in person and are strongly discouraging tenants from moving house in line with UK Gov policy. All those who had given notice to leave in the next few weeks have already taken that advice to heart and deferred their planned move outs – very much with our approval.

Maintenance: regular maintenance programmes eg gardening, hedge trimming are put on hold – they are not essential.

Repairs: In line with the letter to the tenants we will only consider category 1 hazards – eg broken boiler, bad roof leak, drains backing up but even those will need tradespeople able and willing to attend and special procedures from the tenants. See the tenants page for details of that.

Safety checks – gas: we have attempted to put in place checks for certificates due to expire in the next two months. The regulations have been relaxed so that a check done today can be effective for an expiry date up to two months in advance. We are working closely with our gas engineers to ensure that we meet all your, and our, obligations in this respect both for the present and in the longer term.

Safety checks – electricity: there is a big grey area here and we are not sure if the new legislation will be implemented as originally planned or delayed till this crisis is over. We will keep everything up to date here as soon as we learn more. The UK Gov Guidance for landlords and tenants has a section on this subject.