The operation to shield Plymouth’s most vulnerable residents from the Coronavirus.
Caring for Plymouth, which is an alliance between the Council, Livewell Southwest and a large number of Voluntary and Community Sector organisations, will ensure that these people are provided with emotional support, shopping, medicine collection, support with paying bills and accessing money. Staff providing the service will have had background checks to provide added piece of mind.
In addition, the Caring for Plymouth Support Hub will support other vulnerable older and disabled people who are affected by Covid 19 and who have no-one to support them to maintain their independence.
Five-year electrical safety checks will still be mandatory for landlords for all new tenancies from 01 July 2020. This will still be rolled out to all existing tenancies from 01 April 2021.
Coronavirus has not impacted these regulations, the Government have confirmed the following;
Landlords must provide tenants with all necessary gas and electrical safety and any other relevant certification at the beginning of a tenancy (and carry out all scheduled inspections and tests where required). Where inspections have already been carried out, documents can be provided by post or in some circumstances it may be possible to provide digital copies.
Landlords should make every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations and electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July. There are provisions in both regulations to account for situations in which a landlord cannot do this (see box below), and they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law.
We are encouraging local authorities and other enforcement agencies to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to enforcement in these unprecedented times. You can read the latest guidance for landlords and Gas Safe engineers and inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive here https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/
For the full guidance see page 19 of the Government guidance; https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876500/Consolidated_Landlord_and_Tenant_Guidance_COVID_and_the_PRS_v4.2.pdf
‘National Code Assured Accommodation’, have released information and advice on the impact of Coronavirus on student accommodation, including within the private rented sector. It contains an overview of how the sector is reacting to the challenges it’s faced with.
The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations set a minimum energy efficiency level for domestic private rented properties. Landlords with properties rated F or G must make improvements to gain a minimum E rating, or register an exemption.
The Regulations apply to all domestic private rented properties that are:
1. Is your property let on one of the following types of domestic tenancies:
2. Is your property legally required to have an EPC?
If the property you let has been marketed for sale or let, or modified, in the past 10 years then it will probably be legally required to have an EPC.
If you answered Yes to both these questions, and your property has an EPC rating of F or G, you must take appropriate steps to comply with the requirements of the MEES Regulations.
If a local authority believes a landlord has failed to fulfil their obligations under the MEES Regulations, they can serve the landlord with a compliance notice. If a breach is confirmed, the landlord may receive a financial penalty.
For further information see the gov.uk website; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance
As of 30th March 2020, the Government has made temporary changes to ensure that checks can continue.
Checks will continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents in the code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation and right to rent document checks: a user guide. It remains an offence to knowingly lease premises to a person who is not lawfully in the UK.
Because of COVID-19 some individuals will be unable to evidence their right to rent. During this period, you must take extra care to ensure that no-one is discriminated against because they are struggling to evidence their right to rent. For more information, please see the code of practice for landlords: avoiding unlawful discrimination when conducting right to rent checks in the private rented residential sector.
Once you have submitted your request to the service, please do not try to contact them again. You will get an answer within 2 working days. You must keep their response to protect against a civil penalty.
The full information can be found on the gov.uk website;
The guidance provides advice to landlords and tenants on the provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020, and further advice for landlords, tenants and local authorities more broadly about their rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
It provides non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors on:
Parties involved in home moving are urged to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes. There is no need to pull out of transactions, but everyone needs to ensure they are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times.
PLEASE VIEW UP TO DATE INFORMATION FROM THE GOV.UK LINK ABOVE, ALL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND UPDATES.
The Government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by Coronavirus. No renter will be forced out of their home.
INCREASED NOTICE PERIOD – From 26th March 2020, if a landlord intends to seek possession, a minimum notice period of 3 months must be given to to a tenant. This increased notice period will apply in law until 30th September 2020, however both the end point and the 3 month notice period can be extended if needed. This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of eviction.
As a result of the change in law, the new Form 6a was published on 26th March 2020 and is to be used until 30 September 2020.
The Government makes it clear that tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. Government support is available for tenants who are facing financial hardship.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said ‘The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.’
ONGOING POSSESSION CASES SUSPENDED – From 27th March 2020, court services have suspended all ongoing housing possession action. This means that neither cases that are currently in or about to go into the system can progress to the stage where someone can be evicted. This suspension will initially last for 90 days but can be extended if needed.
The government is committed to supporting landlords, and maintaining the positive partnership between tenants and landlords.
LANDLORD OBLIGATIONS – Landlords remain legally obligated to to ensure properties meet the required standard. Urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.
An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords. Local authorities are also encouraged to take a pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced, on 26th March, a new Self-employment Income Support Scheme for self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19;
For further information and eligibility, see the gov.uk information page ‘Business Support’ https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
If tenants are struggling through this difficult time, please see the following guidance for landlords from SWLA;
The Government have confirmed that business rates relief has been extended to estate and letting agents. Offices that have closed due to the measured implemented to stop the spread of Coronavirus will be exempted from business rates in 2020-2021.
Eligible businesses will be re-billed by their local authority, the new bill will give a 100% discount. If payments have been made in the meantime, they will be refunded by the local authority.
The Government advice is for all queries to be directed to the local authority. Guidance for local authorities will be published by the Government in due course.
ALL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS FROM GAS SAFE – HSE
The following is intended for Landlords of properties.
We are keen to highlight that, as set out below, Landlords are responsible for their properties and have a duty of care to their tenants. This means that Registered Gas Engineers are not responsible for Landlords Gas Safety Checks being in place or up to date.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has released new guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities.
Section 3 of the document below provides guidance on property access and health and safety obligations in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
The advice includes:
The MHCLG guidance and following HSE stated advice are aligned.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state:
“Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check.
In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g., refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This will need to include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineers attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available.
If you anticipate difficulties in gaining access as the COVID-19 situation progresses, you have the flexibility to carry out annual gas safety checks two months before the deadline date. Landlords can have the annual gas safety checks at their properties carried out any time from 10 to 12 calendar months after the previous check and still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check.
You are encouraged to arrange your annual gas safety checks as early as possible, as a contingency against tenants being in self-isolation for a period of 14 days (in line with current guidelines), or gas engineers being unavailable due to illness. The two-month period to carry out annual gas safety checks should provide adequate resilience in most situations.
Current guidance from HM Government concurs that work can still be carried out in people’s homes where necessary, e.g., for reasons of safety, provided that the GOV.UK guidance on social distancing is followed. See ‘Advice for engineers’ for guidance for engineers and their employers regarding working in peoples’ homes.”
For the full update please see the following link;
We still await official guidance from the Government for landlords and letting agents. In the meantime, ARLA/Propertymark have spoken with a senior civil servant who stated that letting agents are NOT ‘essential businesses’ under the new rules as part of social distancing measures announced by Boris Johnson on 23rd March 2020. Therefore all letting agent offices must close immediately. They also stated that there should not be any in-person viewings, routine inspections or house moves.
The British Association of Removers has issued communication (on the morning of 24th March) that moves will only take place if they are already underway. Moves that have not yet started should not go ahead.
It is expected that letting agents will continue to be able to be contacted by telephone or email by tenants to deal with any emergencies.
As soon as official Government guidance is published, we will update our news feed accordingly. Therefore, any information and guidance published by SWLA so far may be subject to change.
18th March 2020 – Government announces radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by Coronavirus.
We await further Government guidance for landlords.
18th March 2020. Boris Johnson confirms the government will bring forward legislation “to protect private renters from eviction” but will also avoid “pass[ing] on the problem” by “taking steps to protect other actors in the economy”.
No further details have yet been clarified.
Many people are going to see their jobs and incomes hit by the economic effects of Coronavirus. SWLA are awaiting official guidance from the Government for the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and will update our members regularly.
The Chancellor has already set out a package of measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption. He said he would take further action as the situation evolved. For business and self employment support measures, see the Business Support Government website; https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
For tenants who do not qualify for the Business Support measures, they can apply for Universal Credit; https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months.
Our current advice is for landlords to consider each tenants situation on a case by case basis. For a tenant who suddenly sees a drop in income, a landlord could consider a partial rent payment, the deficit to be paid at a later date. We recommend that landlords keep good records of the measures that they have implemented so it’s clear to see the request from the tenant, the reasons for the request and the solution provided by the landlord.
For up to date news and information see the gov.uk website; https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
And NHS website; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Tenants may seek advice from their landlord, in which case they should be directed to the gov.uk and NHS website above. In the event that a tenant needs to self isolate, be sympathetic and reiterate the NHS advice.
As of 23rd March 2020, all UK residents must stay at home, only going outside for basic necessities/food, medical need/vulnerable person care, one form of exercise per day & essential work (staying 2 meters away from people). Hands to be washed as soon as residents return home.
Tenants income may be impacted thus increasing the risk of rent arrears. Discuss this with your tenant and be flexible where you can. Keep evidence of the tenants request (in writing) and your agreed solution (to be reviewed on a month by month basis), be clear that arrears payments will be negotiated at a later date. If your tenant falls into serious rent arrears which impacts your finances, keep your mortgage lender informed and they may be able to offer support to you, this will be on a case by case basis. The Government has introduced financial support packages for businesses and self-employed, all support package information can be found here; https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
You could call or email elderly or medically vulnerable tenants to check they have access to support should the need arise. If they do not have support, they can contact their local authority who can put emergency measures in place. If they are unable to do this, landlords could call on their behalf.
HMOs will have a higher risk of illness spreading. If a tenant reports symptoms or self isolation to you, you should advise other tenants within the property to read the NHS guidelines and follow hygiene guidance. You should also make tradespeople aware if they are visiting that property for emergency purposes.
Landlords remain legally obligated to to ensure properties meet the required standard. Urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.
You should delay all non essential visits/repairs, documenting them and agreeing with your tenant to address them at a later date.
Respect your tenant’s decisions to self isolate, remember that they have the right to exclude all others from their home. If you cannot meet your landlord obligations (i.e. gas safety check, electrical inspection etc) due to a tenant self isolating, keep evidence of the dialogue (ideally email/letter) and inform the Local Authority. After the self-isolation period, you should organise the inspection and or repairs when it’s convenient for your tenant.
On 28th March 2020 the Government released a non-statutory guidance document for landlords and tenants;
SWLA will support our members within office hours with telephone enquiries (please leave a message and we will return your call) and email enquiries. Our office is closed, however we are still working to support our members. We will follow Government guidance and keep members up to date and answer any letting related queries that arise.
Many changes are afoot within the private rented sector, we met with Luke to discuss these changes and raise points for Luke to take forward.
Items on the agenda included;
SWLA are proud to be a voice for all of its landlord and agent members. We regularly meet with local MPs and councillors to ensure that good landlords are getting a fair deal. We look forward to meeting Luke again later in the year.
Steve Lees, chair of SWLA, was invited to attend a focus group meeting in Bristol on Monday 9th March 2020 hosted by the Private Rented Sector Division, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The aim of the focus group is to reform the database of rogue landlords and property agents.
The database of rogue landlords and property agents was introduced in April 2018. The database is targeted at only the most serious and prolific criminals, who are convicted of the limited range of banning order offences. The database is currently an enforcement tool available to local authorities, except in certain circumstances where anonymised, aggregated data can be requested by the public.
In October 2018, the Prime Minister committed to opening up access to information on the database of rogue landlords and property agents to tenants. A government consultation (now closed) was seeking views on widening access to the database to allow tenants and prospective tenants access to the database. To ensure that the database is a useful tool for local authorities and tenants, the government are seeking views on expanding the scope of offences and infractions which could lead to entries on the database.
The meeting in Bristol was a chance for landlords and PRS representatives to discuss changes to the database that would benefit tenants and good landlords alike.
Is your rental property ready for 1st April 2020? Read the landlords guide to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (see link below – if the link doesn’t open for you please type the below into your search engine)
Landlords- you can now compare local Letting Agent fees on one website FREE OF CHARGE.
Letting Agents- you can add your company information and fees FREE OF CHARGE to the website.
The comparison site will reveal how much local letting agents charge for ‘full property management’, ‘rent collection’ and ‘tenant find only’ services.
4 simple steps
For further information: www.comparelettingagentfees.co.uk
Wednesday 5th February, Anna Lord (SWLA Senior Administrator) attended the meeting along with various representatives from the PRS in Plymouth. The aim of the group is to drive up housing conditions.
Many items were discussed including; changes in HMO licencing in line with mandatory licencing, the costings of HMO licencing, PATH tenancy training programs, the climate emergency and what the PRS can do to help.
SWLA are proud to be part of this group; helping to drive up housing conditions for tenants whilst ensuring members and course attendees are aware of their landlord obligations.
Those who fail to submit a return before the deadline could face an initial fixed penalty of £100.00 as well as further penalties dependant on the length of delay.
If you are unsure about any aspect of your self-assessment tax return, it is important that you seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity.
For further information ; https://www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns/deadlines
Five-year safety checks will be mandatory for landlords for all new tenancies from 01 July 2020. This will be rolled out to all existing tenancies from 01 April 2021. The new regulations were tabled by the Government on Monday 13th January 2020, requiring pre-tenancy and five yearly checks of all fixed appliances and wiring.
Landlords failing to comply with the new rules will face fines of up to £30,000.
Once the electrical installation has been tested, the landlord needs to receive a written report from the inspector, with the results and next inspection date. They must then;
– Give a copy of the report to tenants within 28 days
– Give a copy to the local authority, if it asks for one, within seven day
– Keep a copy and give it to the person carrying out the next inspection.
For new tenancies, the landlord must:
– Give the tenant a copy of the most recent report before they move in
– Give a copy of the most recent report to any prospective new tenant who asks for it in writing, within 28 days
For further information http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2020/9780111191934
Article Abridged from RLA