Top 5 Questions for Landlords in Lockdown
There are now many instances of landlords getting bombarded with requests and complaints from their tenants, regarding things such as maintenance that is being insufficiently dealt with, to contractor safety certificates that have expired.
Landlords need to demonstrate that they are sticking to the new guidelines that were set due to the COVID-19 outbreak. During lockdown, however, this is harder to do. Clear communication with tenants and record-keeping is vital. On top of this, landlords must also keep up to date with the latest government guidance in case something were to change.
Here are a few answers to the questions that you landlords in lockdown may need.
What if your tenant reports maintenance but you are self-isolating?
The law is clear in that landlords must adhere to their legal responsibilities, regarding maintenance under Section 11 of the Housing Act.
During a lockdown, however, only emergency maintenance should be undertaken, to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.
To help assess the issue, you can ask tenants to supply you with photographs and most preferably videos (as you are in lockdown) that outline the main problem that they have. You will have to also keep a record of the maintenance that is being reported as to document the steps you can take from there to complete the repair.
Make sure you plan the contractor for the maintenance well in advance in case they are not available when you need them.
What if your usual contractor is not working and you won’t be able to get the work done until they are working again?
If your usual contractor is not available in lockdown, then this should not matter. This is because it is your duty and responsibility to source a new contractor, due to the landlord’s repair obligations, this is even more important when it is an emergency,
Do you need to protect your contractor from your tenants and vice versa?
Yes. Self-managing landlords are always responsible for the health and safety of their contractors, pandemic, or no pandemic. You need to make sure that you have a copy of their insurances, relevant certificates, risk assessments and proof of ID.
Due to the current pandemic, you’ll also need to make sure that your contractor shows no symptoms of COVID-19, or even been in contact with anyone that has tested positive for it. The same thing goes for your tenant. Be sure to document these conversations with your contractor and tenant in case either of them becomes affected by it.
Say your Landlord Gas Safety Certificate is due to expire during lockdown, what do you do?
The Gas Safe Register has maintained that gas appliances must be tested and Landlord Gas Safety Certificates to be produced annually.
If there are reasons for this not to be completed prior to the current certificates expiring, then this needs to be well-documented for future use. Landlords should also not insist on a contractor entering a rental property during lockdown if the tenant states that no-one should enter. These safety certificates are to protect fatal harm and should be completed as early as possible.
Landlord Gas Safety Certificates can be completed 2 months in advance of the expiry date of your current certificate, so, if your tenant is currently safe and healthy, then you may want to bring that date forward.
Do I need an Electrical Installation & Condition Report for 1st April 2021?
Yes, if you are living in England, the deadline for this report is indeed for 1st April 2021.
It is a legal requirement for landlords to know that their electrics are safe. The only way to ensure that your electrics are safe is to have a qualified electrician check and then produce a report. Working alongside the personal challenges of COVID-19, remains a significant responsibility for landlords to be compliant with the law as well as meeting their legal obligations.
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Call our lettings team on 0121 426 3220 or you can send us an email here.