Letting A Property As A Landlord

Q: What is the current situation with letting new properties?

A: Unfortunately, as you will appreciate to protect all our colleagues and customers and in line with the new government restrictions on movement, we are unable to conduct viewings at the current time. Virtual viewings can be arranged where needed. We do have applicants registered that are still looking to move home and will continue to follow government guidelines and advice.

Q: I can’t arrange maintenance of my property, and some of the warranties are at risk of running out. What should I do?

A: If you are a fully managed landlord, supported by us, please make contact in the usual way.

For information, some warranties (which may have a time restriction) could be unaffected and we could contact your warranty provider to gain confirmation of this in writing. We can then reschedule a contractor or update the warranty provider once the current restrictions are lifted.

We are able to provide tenants with government guidance on the standard of cleaning that should be carried out at the property, should they be concerned that they have been affected by the virus. If you manage a property yourself, we suggest you follow the points above and refer to the official government guidance at all times.

Q: I am worried that my tenants will not be able to pay their rent soon. What should I do?

A: Measures to protect tenants from eviction have been announced in England, Scotland and Wales.

On 25 March 2020 the UK Government confirmed, in relation to England:

  • Emergency legislation is being progressed to prevent the commencement of any new eviction proceedings from social or private rented accommodation for at least the next 3 months while this national emergency is taking place. This initial period could be extended to 6 months if needed. Evictions already in progress can proceed although this is dependent on relevant court procedures being available.
  • This means that no new possession proceedings will commence via applications to the court will start during this period.
  • Landlords will also be protected as 3 month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages

During this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

On 18 March 2020 the Scottish Government published the following policy changes:

In the private sector, landlords will need to be equally supportive at during this public health crisis. We need to get the balance right between protecting tenants and ensuring landlords can continue to provide housing. To support this, we will address, through legislation, a temporary change in the current Private Housing (Tenancies) Act. Currently landlords can move to eviction if a tenant is in arrears for at least three months in a row and if at least one month rent is unpaid. At present, first tier Housing Tribunals will not uphold this if the reason for non-payment of rent is a delay or failure in the payment to tenants of welfare benefits such as housing benefit or universal credit. This is a crucial part of our current legislative protection. But this temporary change we will make goes further and will increase that rent arrears period from the current three months to six months.

The Housing and Property Chamber announced that all hearings and case management discussions will be postponed from 19 March 2020, this means that there will be no new eviction orders granted for private rented tenancies until 28 May 2020 at the earliest.

In addition, the Welsh Government has confirmed that eviction proceedings will be suspended. We anticipate that otherwise Welsh policy will be the same as that of England.

Q: I could lose money if a tenant (who has already given notice) self isolates and I can’t arrange viewings for a new tenant. What are you going to do about this? Can I claim money back from the deposit?

A: It is anticipated that any tenant who self-isolates will continue to pay rent for the duration of their stay and therefore rent should continue to be paid.

Tenants are being instructed to advise us as soon as their self-isolation has ended and we can then, ensure that the tenant has cleaned the property to the required standard and, begin marketing the property. We will endeavour to begin this as soon as is possible to limit any financial impact on you.

Whether landlords can offset costs such as this against the security deposit will depend on the terms of the tenancy agreement in place.

Q: Do we have to disclose that a previous tenant had Coronavirus?

A: No. Where a previous tenant had the illness, the focus should be on ensuring that the property has been cleaned in accordance with government guidance. We will be encouraging potential applicants to apply their common sense and accept that there is very little risk provided that the property has been cleaned to the standard set out in government guidance.

Q: What are your recommendations in relation to the deep cleaning of a rental property following a tenant’s self-isolation?

A: The Government has issued guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. Landlords may wish to supplement the cleaning, but this would be at their own cost.

Q: If I am already in the AVIVA Rent Protection scheme who do I speak to if I have questions about a claim?

A: Either call us on 01257 230 600 – option 2 then select option 1. Or email us at rpclaims@reedsrains.co.uk. Please note that it may take us longer to respond than would otherwise be the case.  Please bear with us.

Q: Can I apply for AVIVA Rent Protection Insurance to protect me should my tenant be unable to pay his/her rent?

A: No. Applications for new Rent Protection Insurance have been suspended by many insurers and this includes the AVIVA Rent Protection scheme as of 19th March 2020. This does not affect you as an existing Rent Protection policyholder at this time.

Q: I am a new AVIVA Rent Protection insurance customer. Will my policy start automatically as agreed?

A: If you have already agreed to start your policy automatically when an impending tenancy begins, this will continue to be the case. You will receive your policy documentation when the policy is made live.

If you have any concerns, call us on 01392 849 793 or email us at ri@reedsrains.co.uk

Please note that it may take us longer to respond than would otherwise be the case. Please bear with us.