Letting legally and safely during the COVID-19 crisis
While the UK is in a state of flux, with lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines constantly under review and changing regularly, the good news is that the property market is open for business. That means, although there are specific precautions that must be taken, it should be possible to carry out most, if not all the functions required to let and manage property. That said, it is especially important right now that you do so legally and safely, making sure you adhere to all the additional temporary rules and take into consideration other people’s individual situations.
One of the key developments over recent weeks has been the imposition of local area lockdowns, meaning different rules can apply from one area to the next, which may be as close as one street to another. This means we all have to make a concerted effort to stay up to date with announcements relating to the specific area in which our rental properties are located. If you are in any doubt, your local council website should have specific information for landlords and you can always call into your local Reeds Rains branch for advice.
If we let and manage your property, you may have already seen the information from us about our methods and processes, including our COVID-19 update which contains further information about routine visits and viewings.
The main points to highlight are:
Social distancing remains the primary way to avoid coming into contact with or spreading coronavirus so, as far as possible, you should remain 2m away from other people and limit the number of people you come into contact with, particularly indoors.
- As it currently stands, in England a maximum of six people can meet. This may mean more than one household meeting in some areas with up to six people, although in others you may not be able to mix with other households, do check your local rules.
- Face coverings should be worn as much as possible when indoors and in line with government guidelines. Be aware that people may have medical and other legitimate reasons for not wearing them and they are not obliged to specify these reasons, so it’s important to be sensitive. In these situations, social distancing is especially important.
- Hygiene is key, so you should wash and/or sanitise your hands regularly and ensure any surfaces that may be touched by you and others are sanitised after each contact.
- No physical paperwork should be passed between parties.
Overarching all this is a responsibility to ensure that everyone involved in a meeting or visit is happy with the safety precautions being taken, so do tell people what you’re intending to do. And if you or anyone else has any concerns, it is best to err on the side of caution. That may mean postponing or cancelling an appointment or simply adjusting how it’s carried out.
If you have any queries about how we’re letting and managing your property during the current crisis, or you’re unsure about what you should be doing yourself, please get in touch with us via email or phone.
Summary: 10 tips for managing property safely
- Only make essential visits in person.
- Check that all parties involved in a property visit are symptom-free and in good health.
- Always make sure your tenant is happy to have visitors in the property and they abide by the local rules.
- Ensure that anyone visiting a property maintains a 2m distance from other households.
- Ask the tenant to clean any surfaces a visitor is likely to touch, both before and after the visit.
- Ensure all doors are opened and lights are switched on before the visit.
- Remind all parties to wash their hands both before and after the visit.
- Remind all parties that they should avoid handing over any paperwork or passing any other items between them.
- If a contractor has collected keys to access the property, ensure the keys are properly sanitised before they are collected and when they are returned.
- If you have any difficulty arranging for health & safety or other legally-required works to be carried out – whether that’s down to concerns of the tenant or because of the availability of contractors – make sure you document all your communications clearly, so you can show every effort was made. Any works that have been delayed or postponed should be rescheduled as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.