Guidance for private sector landlords, letting agents and tenants
Minimising health risks in rented properties
As part of the national response to the COVID-19 outbreak local authorities, landlords and tenants need to work together to keep rented properties safe. The government is asking us all to do all we can by following social distancing advice.
The risk of infecting others is increased in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) where individuals live in close proximity and share amenities. Landlords should advise their tenants of the importance of following government hygiene practices.
For more information on the latest government advice online.
If you are responsible for cleaning shared areas in HMOs (i.e. kitchens, bathrooms, hallways/stairs etc), you may wish to increase cleaning in these areas.
Tenants should inform the property manager and their fellow tenants if they have symptoms, as the entire HMO will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
Should a tenant have symptoms landlords should follow government guidance on decontamination in non-clinical settings.
Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed. However, we recommend that landlords and tenants engage constructively about access to a property, and that it is only proposed for serious and urgent issues.
Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect your tenant’s ability to live safely and maintain their mental and physical health in the property. This includes (but is not limited to) boiler breakdowns, no heating or hot water, blocked toilets and drains or leaks.
If an urgent repair is identified, landlords may enter the property with the permission of the tenant. You and any contractors present should ensure you have no symptoms and follow all advice on social distancing and hand washing while the work or inspection is performed.
Contractors and tenants may also wish to contact Public Health England for further guidance when a property repair is required and the tenant is self-isolating.
Visit the government website for guidance on visits to properties to make repairs.
Gas and electric safety inspections
Landlords should make every effort to abide by gas safety regulations and electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July. There are provisions to account for situations in which a landlord may not have been able to do this, but landlords must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps.
If you are unable to gain access to the property due to COVID-19 restrictions, or cannot get a contractor to carry out the necessary work, we recommend you document your attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants.
Follow gas safety guidance.
Fire safety in your property
With more people staying at home, the London Fire Brigade has warned of the potential for more fires in the home and are calling for people to think, take action and avoid becoming a further casualty for the NHS.
Landlords need to ensure their properties meet fire safety standards. Some basic measures include fitting and testing smoke alarms on every floor, ensuring that furniture and furnishings are fire resistant, getting gas and electrical systems regularly inspected, and working with tenants to ensure they report any problems with fire safety to their landlord as soon as possible.
Property licences have specific conditions relating to fire safety – please also check to see what you need to do.
Government support available for landlords and tenants
The government has announced temporary measures relating to the private rented sector.
- Extending notice periods for repossession for the duration of the emergency.
- Suspending all ongoing possession cases for 90 days from 27 March 2020.
- Ensuring that buy-to-let lenders will offer a mortgage holiday of up to three months for private landlords whose tenants have been affected by COVID-19. This is on the understanding that landlords will be expected to offer a similar rent holiday to their tenants.
Further information on the government support available to landlords and tenants.
During this national crisis, the council is diverting resources to our most critical services to ensure our most vulnerable residents continue to receive the care they need. You can still contact us using the details below and we will respond to you as soon as possible.
Tel: 020 8825 9512