The national lockdown in the UK imposed on January 4 this year is still in place, though some restrictions have been eased this March. The lockdown was imposed by the government after the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant that set off a spike in infections.
Authorities report that the pandemic has already led to a recession that is the worst since 1948. They expect that the national lockdown will further lower the GDP. Many businesses are affected.
As a landlord, you do not have to close shop. You must continue to manage your various responsibilities, but you must implement certain changes and adjustments to conform to lockdown guidelines.
Dealing with New Tenants
When you have a prospective tenant, it is still your responsibility to check if they have the right to rent property in the UK. You will be committing an offense if you rent out a property to someone who is not legally entitled to do so.
During the lockdown, the government permits a landlord to receive a scanned copy or a photo of the tenant’s documents by email or through a mobile app. You must then have a video call where the tenant holds up the original documents for you to compare with what you have received. You must record the date and add a note stating that an adjusted check has been undertaken on that date due to COVID-19. Eight weeks or less after the lockdown is lifted, you must do a retrospective check on the tenant and keep both checks in your records.
If the prospective tenant does not have the required documents in the prescribed list, a landlord must contact the Landlord’s Checking Services. A response will be sent within two working days, and you must keep this to avoid penalty.
It is also still the landlord’s responsibility to give a new tenant the government’s How to Rent checklist. During the pandemic, this must be sent by email.
Inspections and Repairs
A landlord is still required to do the electrical safety inspection and gas safety inspection according to schedule and submit the electrical inspection report and gas safety certificate. A tenant must allow a landlord entry into the home for these, except if the tenant is self-isolating.
In such cases, the landlord must reschedule the inspections until after the tenant has finished the isolation period. You must keep a record of all your communications with the tenant and the inspectors, including their responses, to show proof that you are taking all reasonable steps to comply with requirements.
In the case of the energy performance certificate (EPC), you are only required to have it at the start of a tenancy. Therefore, you must arrange for an inspection only when you are drawing up a new contract for a new tenant, offering a new contract to existing tenants, or replacing a fixed term of tenancy with a statutory periodic tenancy.
If you need to do any of these inspections or any urgent repairs while you have a current tenant in residence, you must agree on an appointment with your tenant. It is best if the tenant is not in the house while the inspection of repair is going on. The tenant can go grocery shopping during that period. This lessens the number of people in the enclosed space.
All guidelines to prevent coronavirus transmission must be followed during inspections and repairs. Windows must be kept open to improve ventilation, and internal doors must be kept open to limit contact with door handles.
Inspectors or workers must avoid physical contact and observe physical distancing of two meters. If only one meter is possible, risk can be reduced by wearing a mask. Workers must not share tools and must sanitize surfaces that they touch. They must remove and properly dispose of any waste from the repair work.
After the work is finished, remind the tenant to sanitize the house thoroughly.
Stay the Course
It is not easy being a landlord, and it is more complicated to be a landlord in the middle of a national lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic. You can be faced with problems on all sides in dealing with current tenants, potential tenants, and service providers alike.
If you are armed with all the necessary information, though, you will be able to navigate the difficulties more easily while managing your responsibilities. Make sure your information is always complete, up-to-date, and from reliable sources.
You must stay the course and not be intimidated by the restrictions that the pandemic brings. You can protect your business and yourself while also protecting others.