Tenanted property access during Covid-19
While it has been relatively easy to freeze buying and selling activity amid Covid-19 restrictions, the private rental market is a more complex affair. Landlords - and any property manager acting on their behalf – still have a duty of care to their tenants and are bound by law to ensure their let properties are legally compliant, even during the current crisis.
These obligations mean access to tenanted properties is still required and the Government has moved to publish official Covid-19 guidelines for landlords and tenants. There are a number of occasions when people may need to enter a rented property and Viewber outlines these below.
You must note, however, visits to tenanted properties - for whatever reason - should be delayed if anyone involved is self-isolating, shielding or showing Convid-19 symptoms, however mild.
Critical property access advice
All services, suppliers, trades, landlords and lettings professionals who deem it necessary to visit a tenanted property should only arrive after an appointment has been made with the tenant, and they must follow the Government’s guidance on carrying out work in people’s homes. This includes:
- Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds or the regular use of hand sanitizer gel
- Observing social distancing rules by keeping at least 2 metres from anyone present
- Only working if they are well and symptom free
- Asking the tenant to stay in a different room while they work
- Touching surfaces and items as little as possible
Emergency property maintenance
Landlords and their property managers are still legally obliged to provide tenants with a safe and secure property in which to reside. Urgent repairs relating to health and safety should be attended to, and the nature of these repairs can include:
- burst pipes, floods and leaks
- electrical issues that endanger life or create a loss of power
- faults that impact the fabric or structure of the property
- broken boilers that leave tenants without heating and/or hot water
- plumbing issues that affect drinking water, personal hygiene or the washing of clothes
- issues with white goods that prevent the safe storage and cooking of food
- security repairs, such as a broken window or a damaged front door
- any issues relating to equipment used by a disabled person
Obtaining an EPC
Despite the current climate, the 1st April 2020 saw new MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards) introduced, and the Government has re-iterated that all properties in the private rental sector now need an in-date EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) showing an E rating or above. Energy assessors are advised to continue carrying out inspections on new-to-market rental properties and in buy-to-lets where the current EPC is expiring or needs reclassifying in light of improvement works.
Meeting gas & electrical safety regulations
Gas safety obligations (including an annual gas safety check) are an ongoing matter of compliance and as of 1st July 2020, new-to-market rental properties will be subject to additional mandatory electrical safety checks. All maintenance works to ensure gas and electrical safety standards are met – now and in preparation for the incoming obligation - should still be carried out.
The Government has highlighted that all non-urgent property surveys must cease, although it states urgent surveys on empty properties or those where the occupants are out of the property can still go ahead.
Check in, check out, inspections & inventories
It is advisable to refrain from in-person check-in and check-out events, while delaying non-emergency inspections is strongly advised. Landlords and letting agents may take advantage of video calls to conduct contractually-unavoidable lettings procedures, including inventories.
If you would like any further advice on property visits during the Covid-19 crisis, please contact Viewber for assistance.