This week our advice team were able to offer our help to one of our members with a question they had about new tenancies during the pandemic.
The landlord wanted to know if he was prohibited from starting a new tenancy at this time, during the lockdown.
The guidance on this topic can be a bit confusing at first, so we were happy to explain it further.
Firstly, new tenancies and house moves are not outright prohibited in all circumstances. They can be done so long as they can be done whilst adhering to all relevant guidelines such as social distancing, hand washing and so on. There should also be a good reason for the move to take place, like the contract already having been agreed. If the move is for a group of people, perhaps designate one primary point of contact that if you do have to meet, whilst distancing, you only have to contact one person and not several.
Another consideration is that even if technically you are able to go ahead with arranging a new tenancy, are you practically able to do this in the usual way that you would do without the impact of Covid-19?
Many landlords meet the tenants face to face a number of times as part of the process of referencing and signing the tenancy agreement. Given the difficulties a landlord may face if needing to take back possession of the property, rushing a tenant through a reduced referencing process and not meeting them to get an understanding of the type of person they are could be a very bad idea.
Landlords must also make sure that their tenants receive the Gas Safety Certificate and Energy Performance Certificate, and in England the How to Rent Booklet as well before agreeing to the tenancy. If either certificate is not already in place, finding an engineer who can go out during the lockdown is proving challenging for some members. The NRLA continue to campaign on behalf of our members in relation to this.
After discussing this with the advice team, our member was clearer on how to move forward and for now was not going to arrange for a new tenancy to play it safe and will be waiting to see how the lockdown rules change in future.
- The NRLA’s coronavirus advice pages are kept up-to-date to reflect the latest government advice and guidance when it comes to property management, financial support and managing health risks.