Important information for landlords during the COVID-19 crisis
This page was last updated at 17:13 on 1 April 2020.
We’ve rounded up all the latest government recommendations and our own advice, to help keep things as normal as possible for you – for as long as the coronavirus crisis lasts.
Your current tenants
COVID-19 is having a serious impact on income for a lot of people – freelancers, self-employed people and those on zero hours contracts are particularly vulnerable. If your tenants are in a situation where they can’t make their rent payments, there is support out there for you.
Last week the government announced a package of measures to protect renters and landlords during the national emergency – and as part of this, they’re offering a three month mortgage “holiday” to landlords, including those with Buy to Let mortgages. This could alleviate the pressure on you as a landlord, or be passed on to tenants who may be out of work and having financial difficulty. At the end of this “holiday” period, it’s expected that landlords and tenants will work together to establish an affordable repayment plan – considering tenants’ individual circumstances.
Emergency legislation has also been prepared to prevent tenants from being evicted, so as a landlord you can’t start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three month period.
Repairs and maintenance
The new lockdown rules in the country prevent everyone from leaving the house, unless it’s for one of four reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities – i.e. food and medicine, which must be done as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise a day – so a run, walk or cycle; alone or only with members of your household
- Any medical need or to provide care/help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
With this in mind, carrying out repairs and maintenance to your property is a little more tricky. The RLA advise weighing up whether or not it’s important to carry out repairs during the lockdown, and if there would be any threat to life to carry out the repairs while practicing social distancing. Any contractors that visit your property should follow social isolation and hygiene advice, and tenants should stay out of areas where the contractors will be.
The government are yet to provide advice about visiting the property for legal obligations (gas safety checks etc) if the household is self isolating due to COVID-19 symptoms – at this point the RLA recommend documenting your efforts as a landlord to comply with legislation, and ensuring you’ve got tenant confirmation if they’ve refused access due to coronavirus concerns.
The government has advised that all house moves should be delayed while measures are being implemented to fight coronavirus, and estate agents have closed as this business is considered "non-essential". It is advised that all parties involved should reach an agreement to delay house moves.
If moving is totally unavoidable due to contractual reasons and all parties involved are unable to reach an agreement to delay, things can proceed but everyone must follow the advice to stay away from others to minimise the spread of COVID-19. If a tenant is due to move but suddenly develops symptoms and has to self-isolate or shield, the move must be delayed for all tenants in the property.
If the contract on your property is nearing its end, you don’t have to put things completely on hold. You can still advertise the room or property for now – we’re encouraging SpareRoom users to conduct viewings via video call instead, and upload a video to your ad to showcase the property, room, and people who live there.
When it comes to deposits and progressing things, we’d still encourage users not to hand money over for a room before they’ve seen it in person – but instead use this time to build a shortlist of properties they can view once lockdown is over.
However, if you really need to secure a new tenant, you can ask for a small holding deposit – but this should only be the equivalent of one week’s rent, in line with the Tenant Fees Act.
Right to Rent checks
Right to Rent checks have been temporarily adjusted to make it easier for landlords and letting agents to carry them out during the coronavirus outbreak.
This means that, until further notice, you don't need to see original documents – prospective and current tenants can now submit scanned documents or a photo of the documents (via email or mobile app), rather than originals. You can also complete the check via a video call. Where an individual doesn't have the right documents to demonstrate their right to rent, you should contact the Landlord Checking Service.
You can find more information about how to conduct a Right to Rent check during the COVID-19 crisis on gov.uk.
Although we endeavour to keep our coronavirus (COVID-19) content as accurate and as up to date as possible, the situation is rapidly changing, so please ensure you refer to gov.uk for the latest advice and information.