COVID-19 COVID-19 information for landlords and tenants

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Private Rented Sector Enforcement

We have reviewed our corporate enforcement policy in line with recent government guidance

How we are working during Covid

We are still responsible for reviewing housing conditions and taking action where needed.

Housing compliance and enforcement officers are continuing property inspections where required, for example;

  • There is a duty to inspect because, for example, where there is an imminent risk to a tenant’s health due to a serious hazard.
  • A serious hazard was previously identified and may still exist.
  • We have been made aware that a tenant is vulnerable and it is not clear if they are aware of the presence of hazardous conditions.

To limit the exposure for all concerned, officers are working remotely where possible which includes asking for evidence from tenants and landlords via picture and video.

We are working closely with both landlords and tenants to help keep rented properties safe, which includes

  • Taking a pragmatic approach to enforcement that ensures tenants are kept safe and landlords are supported.
  • Ensuring all work is carried out in line with the councils own health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Basing all decisions on an assessment of risk.

Inspections as part of HMO and Selective licensing will be undertaken where it is deemed appropriate.

We will continue to investigate offences under the Housing Act 2004 as required.

Landlord responsibilities

The government's response to the Coronavirus pandemic has imposed restrictions for landlords in the private rented sector. However, landlord duties and responsibilities towards their tenants have not changed during the pandemic. Landlords can still access their properties and ensure that works are carried out to meet legal obligations and ensure tenant welfare whilst observing social distancing measures.

  • Landlords still need to undertake urgent repairs that protect tenant's health and safety. We would expect these to be resolved by the landlord at the earliest opportunity and within the shortest timescales available.

Urgent repairs are things such as, but not exclusive to: water supply problems, sanitation, security, fire safety, electrical safety, gas safety, heating and hot water faults.

  • We would expect landlords to undertake non urgent repairs in a programmed manner, without excessive delays.

Consideration will be given to the fact that tenants may still wish to exercise caution during the pandemic and therefore may not allow visits. However, should we feel that the landlord is unnecessarily delaying remedial work to their properties, we may decide to take enforcement action in order to resolve issues.

  • As a landlord, if you are not able to undertake repairs, you should keep a record of the steps that you have taken to find a contractor. Such as:
    • who you contacted,
    • the dates you contacted them on,
    • the responses you got from them

You should also keep a record of:

  • the steps taken to get access to the property
  • any delays if your tenants are self-isolating
  • You may need to provide these if we ask for them.

Some practical steps you can take to allow you to manage your business during the crisis

  • Make a video of your property for advertising purposes if you need to advertise it for let. Video calls could be useful if a tenant wants specific information as opposed to a physical viewing.
  • The government restrictions mean that it is not possible to gather in a group. You could agree on a lead tenant who could meet you at the property to do a check in. This could equally apply at check out.
  • If you are aware of a repair which needs doing but the tenant is unable to permit access due to self-isolation, ask them to document this in a text or an email. Work should not be carried out in properties where the tenant is self-isolating.
  • Specific advice concerning your legal position and gas safety can be found through the Gas Safe Register.

If as a landlord you cannot follow formal action

If you cannot follow any requirements of formal action, you need to let us know as soon as possible.

You can ask for more time to comply and we will consider your request.

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