COVID-19: Advice for Landlords and Tenants
The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). For those privately renting (and those in social housing accommodation), this means they will not be forced out of their home. There is specific guidance on this as well as more general advice on landlords and tenants rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
All current guidance on this can be found on the Gov.uk website.
It is important to remember that a landlords' repair obligations and legal duties have not changed. However, a commonsense approach to non-urgent issues should be taken.
Specific advice on gas safety from the Health and Safety Executive sets out how landlords must take all reasonable steps to comply with their duties.
Where property visits are necessary to complete essential repairs and maintenance, there is also useful advice on working in people's homes.
Where access by a landlord is needed to a property for serious and urgent issues then it's recommended that a tenant allows the landlord or their contractor access to remedy these urgent health and safety issues. There must be strict adherence to current government guidance to enable this to happen safely. We will offer advice to the landlord and tenant where there are concerns over such visits taking place.
The Private Sector Housing Team will only be carrying out essential visits where it is considered completely necessary and only after completing a suitable risk assessment.
Housing Condition Complaints
On complaints about conditions in private rented properties, the normal advice follows that a tenant must first report the problem to their landlord in writing, give them a reasonable time to fix it and chase this up if no action is taken. If it's not fixed, then report this to us by filling out our Complaint About Housing Conditions form. To enable us to assess the risk, we will then contact the tenant and ask for photographic, video or documentary evidence.
Given current coronavirus guidance we will only be considering carrying out essential visits where there is a serious and imminent risk, it is completely necessary and there is no other way in which to resolve the matter. Before undertaking a visit, a suitable risk assessment will be carried out as we must balance ensuring landlords fulfil their legal obligations against the risk of infection or spread of the virus. Where a visit is unavoidable then social distancing and current government advice will be applied.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
We will continue to accept and process applications for an HMO licence, including assessing HMO applications to ensure they contains all the information and documents required to make them valid. As current government guidance recommends suspending inspections of licensable properties, the inspection of your HMO as part of the licensing process will be delayed and you will be contacted as soon as guidance changes and we are able to resume inspections once again.
We will not be carrying out routine HMO inspections at this time.
Housing Immigration Inspections
We are currently unable to provide housing immigration inspections.