This week the advice team were able to assist one of our members with a query relating to how they should be managing their property in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
This has, understandably, been the main topic of queries made to the advice team of late as we all face these unprecedented times together.
One of our members got in touch to seek our advice on how they should move forward with regard to inspecting their property generally, and for organising gas safety certificates.
Whilst there has been a lot of guidance from the government, which should be followed, the fact that landlords have certain legal obligations has not changed.
Proper management of the property does require review and inspection of the property. This will be more difficult to perform an inspection if the tenant is self-isolating or refuses access generally. You should document that the inspection has been postponed due to this, and then arrange a suitable time in the future when you expect that it may be able to take place instead.
A sensible pragmatic approach is best here, if you have only recently inspected the property and the tenant has not informed you of any issue, is another inspection absolutely necessary or can it be delayed. If it is necessary, perhaps to assess an urgent issue, then guidance on gatherings and on social distancing should be adhered to.
For the gas safety certificate, again this obligation has not been removed from the landlord, but it may become more difficult. Gas safety inspections can be considered essential works but may only go ahead if none of the involved parties are symptomatic, and that the relevant guidance on social distancing is adhered to. It may become more problematic to arrange for it due to a shortage of inspectors, and tenants refusing access even if not isolating.
In those sorts of instances, keep a dialogue going with your tenant about why the inspection cannot be performed, something that you can evidence like text or email or letters will be appropriate here.
Even if we disregard the coronavirus issues here, if a tenant will not allow access for gas safety inspections, and the landlord has made 3 or more genuine efforts to try to gain access and can prove this, then HSE often consider this a sufficient excuse to not prosecute.
Where tenants are required to self-isolate for 12 weeks as a high risk group, obtain evidence of this and postpone the appointment until after this time is done with.
Template letters for landlords to send to tenants about contractors
The NRLA has a template letter which members can download and send to their tenants to inform them of a contractor visiting the property to carry out essential works. Members can download this letter here.
NRLA members who were formally members of the NLA can download this same letter by clicking here.
More guidance for landlords on coronavirus and property management can be read online here.