This week our advice team helped a member understand whether they were able to travel to their rental property to carry out a general inspection, given the housing market has now reopened in England.
With government guidance changing frequently as we progress through the pandemic, our advice team is on hand to help members understand what any updates mean for their businesses.
At the start of the pandemic the landlord had made contact with the tenant to check up on them, and to request that they let him know any urgent repairs are needed at the property even during the current pandemic.
The tenant replied saying they would do.
In a few weeks time, the landlord is due to carry out a general inspection of the property. Before contacting the tenant again to tell them about this and give them fair notice of the inspection, the landlord wanted to know if he was able to visit the property to carry out a general inspection or not under the new guidance, or should postpone this given the tenant had not reported any urgent issues that needed addressing at the property.
Our advice team response
Our advisor was able to confirm that because our member’s rental property is in England, and not in Wales, the lettings and property market has now reopened and both landlords and agents are able to visit their properties for purposes relating to re-letting the property, general inspections, repairs and so on. Viewings can also take place.
Anyone visiting their rental property for the above reasons should make sure the follow government social distancing guidelines at all times though. For example they should consider minimising the time spent at the property, contact with tenants and consider wearing gloves and or a face covering.
Our advisor then explained that if the tenant at the property is either shielding or self-isolating, for example the could have been told by the new track and trace system to do so-then the landlord should postpone attending the property. Equally if a tenant is uncomfortable about allowing access, this should be respected and recorded.
We advised our member that they can now safely under current rules attend their property, however, it is important to be clear that non-essential travel should be avoided. Attending a property to fix a dangerous leak would be a good example of something not to avoid, whereas if you communicate with your tenant and they inform that there are no issues at the property, it may be sensible to delay any periodic inspections. There is no catch all definition of what is and is not non-essential travel, so this may come down to the landlords judgement to an extent, but if you are in doubt then we would advise to err on the side of caution.
The situation in Wales
In Wales, as the property market hasn’t reopened, the existing position – that you can’t travel to your property and the lettings market remains closed, is unaffected. This also means landlords with properties in both England and Wales will have to take a different approach depending on which property is at issue.
Read more about the latest government guidance for landlords and letting agents in England here. More information about the situation in Wales can be read here.