Inspections, repairs and cleaning
The process of finding, moving and landlord maintenance of a property will be different during the pandemic. The government has made it clear that, “tenants’ safety should be letting agents’ and landlords’ first priority”. The following guidance has been developed to support safe home moves: -
- Government landlord and tenant guidance (external link)
- Government advice for home moves (external link)
- Industry guidance: Re-opening the home moving market safely (external link)
This guidance was put in place to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus and the possibility of stricter lockdown measures being reintroduced.
In addition to the above, all businesses including landlords, letting and managing agents should have carried out a health and safety risk assessment with particular regard to COVID-19 as well as developing and implementing a safe way of working.
- Access to property for Landlords
- Gas and electrical inspections
- Access to a property for repairs
- Landlords refusing to carry out repairs
- Cleaning of communal building areas
- Viewing properties
Now that housing market restrictions have been eased, your landlord or managing agent may need to access the property to carry out work.
Landlords do not have an automatic right to enter a property if you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) but check your contract because there is usually a term that allows access. (E.g. for viewings or repairs). If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and rent an individual room or bedsit, the landlord could be entitled to access common parts of the property.
Government guidance advises that the landlord should contact you beforehand to check the health of you and other tenants and pre-arrange a suitable time to visit or carry out work. This includes following guidance about social distancing and working safely in a person’s home.
How landlords and/or managing agents visit should be arranged to protect your health and safety and adapted if necessary, depending on your circumstances. You and other tenants are advised to share information about your circumstances and any concerns you have, with your landlord. It is important that they are aware if anyone in the house is clinically vulnerable, shielding or has COVID-19 symptoms and is self-isolating.
If you have COVID-19 and are self-isolating you should not have any visitors in your home, (including your landlord), for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms. You and your landlord and the people you live with, should follow public health guidance (see links to NHS advice above) and arrange access at a later date.
The updated guidance says that landlords are still expected to carry out safety checks when they are due. Where it is not possible to do it in time, they must keep a record stating the reasons why.
Annual gas safety inspections are a very important legal requirement because these ensure that boilers are operating safely. If you smell gas and/or there are any other signs that your boiler is faulty, report it immediately. You are advised to allow access for these checks where necessary depending on your circumstances.
You and other tenants are advised to share information about your circumstances and any concerns you have with your landlord. It is important that they are aware if anyone in the house is clinically vulnerable, shielding or has COVID-19 symptoms and is self-isolating.
If you have the virus and are self-isolating you should not have any visitors in your home, including your landlord, for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms. You and your landlord, and the people you live with, should follow public health guidance (see links to NHS advice above) and arrange access at a later date.
There is also a new requirement about electrical installations in rented properties that came into force on 1 June 2020 for all new tenancies and will be applicable from 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies. It requires landlords to ensure that any electrical installation is safe before a tenancy begins and throughout its duration. Tenants should also be provided with a copy of the electrical safety report.
All repair work can take place where tenants are not shielding or self-isolating. The guidance encourages tenants to let landlords know of any problems with the property and for landlords to take appropriate action.
Where work is needed it should be carried out following the guidance which helps prevent further spread of the virus. It should be done by agreement and preferably when tenants are not present and/or near the area where work and social distancing and hygiene guidelines need to be followed.
Essential work should take priority. Examples of this would be work to remedy electricity or when gas is cut-off/there is a suspected gas leak, a severe water leak, or emergency works to make your home safe and secure.
Repairs in households where people are shielding, or self-isolating should only be carried out if necessary, to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the tenants. In these cases, face to face contact should be avoided and careful cleaning and hygiene precautions taken.
For detailed guidance about how work should be carried out in the home by contractors read: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) (external link).
The council is continuing to provide a complaint response service to tenants during the pandemic. This is as part of our commitment to ensure all tenants have a safe place to live.
Landlords should be acting on requests for repairs, though it is accepted that there may be limitations or delays in how and when this can be done. This will depend on the health status of tenants and to ensure that contractors are operating in a safe way.
Where necessary, the council will still take enforcement action if a landlord fails to carry out essential works.
If your landlord refuses to carry out necessary repairs, you can contact the Private Sector Housing Improvement Team at email@example.com.
In some houses in multiple occupation, the landlord is responsible for cleaning the shared areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, hallways/stairs etc. If these areas are the landlord’s responsibility, these should continue to be cleaned.
Landlords should ensure cleaners are following government guidance (external link) and wearing protective clothing such as disposable gloves and aprons. It is very important that regular cleaning still takes place.
Restrictions on moving have now been lifted and landlords can let vacant properties and/or rooms. This should be done in agreement with the existing tenants, prioritising their health and safety.
Physical viewings should not take place in properties where tenants have symptoms of COVID-19, are self-isolating, clinically vulnerable or shielding.
If the above does not apply, viewings can take place. However, virtual viewings are recommended in the first instance and the landlord may need to access the property to create a video. Any physical viewings should be kept to a minimum and preferably the tenants should not be there. Viewings should be by appointment only with only two prospective tenants visiting with the landlord or agent, and only for a limited time.
When the landlord/agent is at the property they should follow safe working procedures. See Industry Guidance:Re-opening the Home Moving Market Safely (external link).
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