Coronavirus Update #4 For Landlords: Managing Gas Safety & Repairs

Coronavirus Gas Safety Inspection

I know the coronafungus has raised more questions than it’s answered, but I hope there’s no doubt in anyone’s melon that landlords still remain “legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard – urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.”

I’ve been inundated with panic questions over the past two weeks, many of which have been focused on how to comply with our property management obligations (e.g. inspections, gas safety checks, and repairs) while respecting social-distancing and self-isolating tenants.

What’s the protocol for this jacked-up situation?

Before I get into it, I just want to say that since this whole coronavirus thing kicked off, I’ve been averaging one blog post a week. You heard correct, ONE-A-WEEEEEK!

I haven’t been this active since I was fresh-faced and 21. In all honesty, I don’t know how much longer I can maintain this pace before my body reminds me that this is a young-bucks game, and the joints in my nimble fingers have long passed their sell-by date.

However, I do appreciate there’s a killer virus on the loose, so we’re all in survival mode and many of us are stepping up and doing extraordinary things. Like blogging more than normal.

Frontline Blogger

I don’t expect you and aunt Doris to stand on your doorstep, clapping and banging on your pots and pans. But it’s certainly an idea.

Anyways.

For the past week or so I’ve been curating reputable resources that cover the issue of property management during the coronavirus pandemic, so while I’m still chugging along, I should go through some of the FAQs (before my body realises I’m *cough* 24 *cough*, and not 21 anymore)…

Table of contents:

Gas Safety Checks during the coronavirus

How to manage gas safety inspections has definitely been the most frequently asked question, which isn’t particularly surprising.

All of our legal responsibilities as landlords are important should be complied with, even though some are plain stupid, but gas safety is definitely one of the most honourable.

I’ve been directing people towards a YouTube clip provided by the folk over at PropertyTribes, where landlord and tenant legal solicitor, David Smith, covers the issue of gas safety, which has spared me from considerable finger-tapping up until now.

Enduring the 10 minute footage is a good investment, but I’ll also transcribe the key-points below…

  • The gas safety legislation has not changed: the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are the prosecuting body for gas safety, and they’ve always provided guidance on their website about when they will and won’t prosecute landlords.

    Essentially, new temporary legislation hasn’t been introduced because the existing legislation is still relevant.

  • What the HSE expects – landlords should make 3 reasonable efforts to obtain access to the property in order to conduct a gas safety check.
  • If the tenant refuses access because they are scared of contracting the virus – landlords should explain:

    • Why access to the property to conduct a gas safety check is important (i.e. ironically, it’s for the tenant’s own safety. A gas leak could easily wipe them out before the coronavirus gets a hold of their lungs).
    • What safety precautions will be put in place to ensure the check will be safely conducted e.g. the engineer will wear a gas mask, social distance will be practised, communication is not necessary, the inspection will be quick etc. Of course, you will you need confirm the safety precautions with the engineer beforehand.
    • If the tenant still refuses access after 3 attempts – in this case, the landlord has made all reasonable attempts and complied with what the HSE expects. However, the landlord should keep in regular communication with the tenant and schedule a gas safety check for when it’s possible.
  • If the tenant is self-isolating – this is a perfectly reasonable defence and in this case the landlord should not attempt to obtain access during this period. However, landlords should organise the check for when the isolation period has ended.
  • If you can’t find contractors – on the flip side, the greater challenge might be finding contractors that are actually willing to enter the premises to conduct the work.

    In this case, similar rules apply; as long as the landlord has made reasonable efforts to find 5-6 contractors but to no avail, then the HSE is likely to accept that.

    If anyone is struggling to find a local Gas Safe registered engineer to conduct a check:

  • Get everything in writing – as always, it’s important to communicate in written form, including any attempts of access, and your tenants response(s), so everything can be verified if necessary. It’s important for landlords to secure evidence that reasonable attempts have been made to meet legal obligations.

Thank you David and Vanessa.

Oh, and nice sleeves, David. Very funky fresh.

Repairs and maintenance during the coronavirus

David did also cover this matter in his interview, and so does the RLA in this article, so I’m just going to combine forces and dish you up a Frankenstein…

  • As per the MHCLG press release, “Landlords remain legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard – urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.”
  • Repairs should be judgement on the urgency. Any repair that isn’t critical should be delayed.
  • Essential works, such as water supply, sanitation and heating failure will still need to be addressed, so access with the permission of the tenant should be made so work can be dealt with.
  • Anyone accessing the property to manage the repair should ensure they are not symptomatic.

If the tenant refuses entry while critical repairs are required, I *guess* the normal rules apply, which means landlords aren’t allowed to let themselves in, and they will need to obtain a court order first (after the courts reopen, that is, in approx 80 days). Okay, cool.

Property inspections during the coronavirus

This is a tough one, because I deeply value the importance of inspections.

I can’t really find much guidance on this, other than a tiny section on the RLA website, almost like it means nothing to them:

Anyone self-isolating is advised to avoid having any visitors to their home. If the tenant informs you they are self-isolating, you should cancel any planned visits or inspections and rearrange them for a suitable time in the future. Ensure this is documented.

Here are my additional thoughts:

  • I still think routine property inspections are critical. They are one of the best defences against long-term damage.

    If it’s possible and safe to do so, and both parties are willing, I would try and continue with inspections.

  • If your tenant agrees to an inspection and you’re comfortable with it, take all the necessary safety precautions: wear gloves, face masks, make minimal contact with surfaces, respect social distancing, and ask your tenant to leave all doors wide open so rooms are easily accessible.

    To emphasise, you should balance the inspection against risk.

  • If your tenant is self-isolating or falls into the vulnerable bracket, you could arrange a video inspection. A lot of agents have migrated many of their services online and utilising video technology to conduct viewings, inspections and valuations.

I think David summarised it all rather nicely with the following:

Landlords need to keep abreast of the guidance; act reasonably, try to obtain access, be understanding with tenants who don’t want to give them access, and try to reassure them, and highlight that it’s for their own benefit, really. If tenants still don’t wish to give access, then you’re simply going to have to back off, having secured evidence that you have done everything you reasonably could.

I believe that pretty much covers the bulk of what people have been asking, or thereabouts.

I hope this has been helpful.

If anything changes or further information comes to light (which I’m sure it will) I’ll try my best to keep you posted. But shit, with all the extra hand-washing, clapping for heroes, and typing I’ve done over the past few weeks, on top of the usual biological urges fulfilled by my mitts, I can’t guarantee I’ll have anything other than stumps remaining at the end of my arms by next week.

As always, stay safe, stay sterile, my friends! xo

Coronavirus: what you need to do!

37 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Alf Nelson 3rd April, 2020 @ 09:20

I’m a Newbie landlord of 5months learning to educate myself. Reference Information and guidance is all important for me..!

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Graham Ireland 3rd April, 2020 @ 09:42

If you have time you'll love this story. 2 days before BoJo announced lockdown tenant in quarantine although tested Covid-19 negative (kids had colds), emails to the effect that there is water dripping down behind the cooker into the kitchen. 24 hours later frantic call to say all electrics have gone out. A few texts to tenant with limited English got at least his lights on and some electric sockets in the kitchen. Isolated electric fault as such to the main socket circuit in the house. This still meant no heating, boiler requires electric to run. So no chance at that time of getting even emergency tradesman out to this tenant under the circumstances. So I rush up with as much PPE as I can muster (not much). First tried to get electrics working for the boiler. No joy there. So turned attention to the water problem. So about 1 year ago as the result of an ECRIC report I had put in a new ring main to the kitchen and a new consumer box all wired up and tested by an electrician although I did the wire routing (3 days work) The cooker supply cable cut off and wired into the new ring main leaving the original socket hanging unused n the main house socket circuit. When looking at the cooker it seemed like tiles would have to be removed from a wall to allow the cooker to be removed. Got lucky managed to wiggle the cooker out. At this point the whole of our problem was obvious. The main water supply pipe had a pinprick hole in it about 4 inches above where it emerges from the ground and before the main house stopcock and was spraying water onto the unused cooker mains socket behind the cooker which is routed from who knows where. Problem is that contrary to modern standards the outside stop cock stops not only my house but the one next door. (water company aware but wont do anything about it) Turn it off anyway notifying next door of the problem. So with no chance of emergency help I am on my own. Decided that I have to seal the hole in the pipe, so how. Solution go to the local bike shop and acquire a waste inner tube. Then to Wickes to get a large hose clip, then wind the rubber round the pipe and place the hose clip over the rubber and right on top of the hole. The rubber seals the hole and the hose clip takes the mains pressure of the water. 6 attempts to get the positioning right but in the end success. Then dried out the socket rewired in the cooker and switched everything on all happy. Consumer unit RCD device proven to work correctly and now earned it's keep saving the house from a serious problem. This repair only temporary until after Covid-19 then find a plumber to do the job properly.

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Keith 3rd April, 2020 @ 09:44

Hi
Great work on your site,keep up the good work.
Just watched the david and Vanessa pease ,
Just a quick observation ,
I see they are maintaining the 2 metre distancing rules 😂

All the best
Keithy

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courtney 3rd April, 2020 @ 10:32

Dear Landlord Extraordinaire, tks so much for your time and care. Hygiene in public areas in multi-residential rented properties is being ignored! Besides having to live with tenants who ignore the "stay-at-home" / no visitors dictates, it seems the landlord / property managers have a duty to ensure all switches, handles, buttons, etc should be deep-cleaned regularly. We have a teeny lift which is a perfect place for spreading the covid-19. What is the way to protect tenants? Tks again, My LandLord xx

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Neil F Liversidge 3rd April, 2020 @ 10:48

More good stuff. We've just given it this mention on our company Facebook page:
Those of our clients who are landlords - check out this blog. We recommend all residential property landlords subscribe to it. It's down-to-earth no-nonsense stuff. We have no connection or financial interest in it: https://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/coronavirus-managing-rental-property/

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Stealth Bomber 3rd April, 2020 @ 10:57

As with all things legal, take the reasonable steps to be compliant, and record all attempts to access property and communication with tenants. There's no real drama in not getting repairs or gas certs done at this unique time, so long as you can demonstrate reasonable behaviour and requests to the tenant. Home deliveries such as for white goods, are requesting the occupier isolates to another room whilst they complete the installation. So long as options like this are offered to tenants there's not much else can be done.

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Yashamatoto 3rd April, 2020 @ 11:32

Yo "The Landlord"

Being a landlord of 20 years I used to carry out regular property visits but in short, found it too depressing to see the way some people live and what they were doing to my properties. Even tried using agents but decided that wasn't telling me much either way. I generally found that too often it was creating problems/stress that I could live without.

I should add that all my tenancies have been generally long tenancies, one for example has been in one of my properties for 11+ years and is probably one of the worst offenders in terms of their 'lifestyle choices'.

I've worked on the basis for many years, whilst it's my property/house, it's the tenant's home and I only intervene if there's a problem or need to meet statutory obligations (gas certs, repairs etc). I do think this works for tenants, knowing I only intrude on their home when absolutely necessary.

When they choose to vacate (because generally I have only had very few where I've had to serve notice in 20 years), is when we come to the final reckoning, initially I send them a generic email covering areas they need to ensure are up to standard and referencing their AST and original signed inventory. We then often have a preliminary meeting to iron out/agree what specifically needs to be done before they hand back the property, followed by a second meeting when they are actually vacating. Anything that's not been attended to, we agree how those issues will be resolved, generally by agreed deductions from their deposit.

I can hear you shuddering but I guess we all have to find a way that suits ourselves and our own sanity.

In terms of managing our properties during this Covid time, what's your take on the new mandatory electrical safety checks/standards we're all obliged to meet???

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Clem Dye 3rd April, 2020 @ 12:13

My wife and I have a couple of rental properties, and we have an agent manage them for us. We instruct the agent as to our preferred contractors and so forth, but our choice of gas service company is now only handling emergency calls to minimise staff exposure, not unreasonable, given what's currently going on. The agent is sourcing other contractors who are still prepared to risk themselves, so although we can potentially meet our legal obligations we do have breaks in continuity via our preferred contractors, and we have no idea as to the standard of workmanship for the contractors that the agent sources as replacements.

I think that HMG is being particularly inflexible, using the law to deflect problems, rather than allowing some latitude. Of course safety is important, but if you can't get contractors to visit properties and you have no expertise in the relevant fields, then what are you supposed to do? We have one property whose gas safety certificate has just expired. The tenant has refused anyone accessing the property as she's just had a baby. However, she's just recanted, presumably because of the safety considerations, and hopefully we'll have a new certificate tomorrow, but this is far from ideal, as the safety check and servicing work was scheduled some time ago and was then cancelled when she refused access.

We have an email from the tenant confirming that she didn't want anyone to call, and although she's now changed her mind, if there were any problems then I have a set of emails to/from the agent where we made our concerns clear. This is as much about making sure that landlords protect themselves as much as it it them protecting their tenants.

Ultimately, we private landlords are HMG's whipping boys, and this is just another way of sticking it to us. Rather than being supported, we're being hung out to dry. Hardly surprising that so many private landlords are chucking in the towel.

Clem

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Roy S Hopkins 4th April, 2020 @ 09:53

I think the period were no Council Tax is payable by some Councils should be extended to all Councils for a long period owing to the coronavirus because Landlords can not rent or sell their properties at this bad time.

MANY Thanks
Roy Hopkins

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frightened landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 13:11

@ Courtney

Landlord Statutory Obligations for Coronavirus Safety Measures

Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 (“the HSWA”) obliges Landlords to ensure that tenants are not exposed to health and safety risks in the common areas of the building. The Landlords obligations only exist if they have an interest and/or estate in the said common areas as defined by Section 9A(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as inserted by Section 1(3) of the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018.

As coronavirus is a biological agent, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) applies. The COSHH provides Landlords of both business and domestic premises with a framework to control the risks from a range of hazardous substances, including biological agents.

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 13:22

@frightened landlord
Health and Safety Work Act 1974 is for employers, not residential landlords!!

It [the HSW Act] sets out the general duties which:

- employers have towards employees and members of the public
- employees have to themselves and to each other
- certain self-employed have towards themselves and others

https://www.hse.gov.uk/legislation/hswa.htm

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 13:30

@Graham Ireland
Jesus, you went full-on MacGyver on the leak! Not many people would have thought of using a inner tube! Nice one!

But yeah, you def need to get that checked by a proper plumber when you can! I hope your temporary solution holds up until then!

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 13:31

Thanks @Keith, appreciate it.

Apparently they weren't actually in the room at the same time, it's just been edited like that :)

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 13:57

Hi @courtney, thank you :)

This is what the NLA have said about HMO rentals:

Tenants should follow the Government advice. Landlords may wish to consider emailing copies of government advice, as well as having soap and/or sanitiser sent to the property. Tenants should be encouraged to inform housemates if they are self-isolating or have become ill as the whole household will need to self-isolate.

Public Health England (PHE) and Public Health Wales (PHW) have release some posters which HMO landlords may find helpful to email to their tenants. These are available to download below.

The Government has issued guidance on decontamination in non-clinical settings which HMO landlords may want to familiarise themselves with.

Should a deep clean be necessary, the landlord should bear the cost. Cleaning of properties between tenancies should be thorough.

My other thought is that if a tenant is infected, no one should enter as per the Gov's guidance, not even cleaners.

I'm not entirely sure if it should be the landlords responsibility to clean the communal areas inside a house/flat during this period, I think it would be reasonable to communicate with the tenants to ensure they have all the products and equipment they need to keep the property clean, and an organised schedule between themselves (which they should have anyways).

In regards to property managers for large buildings with communal hallways and lifts, then I'm presuming it's business as usual: they should already be ensuring those areas are thoroughly cleaned/disinfected.

They're my thoughts.

Thanks again! xo

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 13:58

@Neil

Thanks for the shout-out, really appreciated :)

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 14:13

@Yashamatoto

I hear ya'

I've also been very taken aback by some of the lifestyle choices my tenants have made. I've genuinely walked away wanting to rip my eyes out of my socket after the inspection.

However, I have learned the difference between lifestyle choices and potentially damaging choices. I can live with lifestyle choices that don't necessarily align with mine - even when they're absolutely nuts!

I have spotted key issues during inspections that could have turned out to be disastrous had I not have spotted them.

But not only that, I often offer to replace/repair items that I think have passed their sell-by date during inspections. Tenants usually appreciate that.

But of course, I've had some tenants that, in hindsight, I didn't need to inspect. But for the sake of 30mins every quarter, it's a worthwhile investment for me.

Funny enough, I just read an article on the new mandatory electrical safety checks. I will write a blog post on that in due time. In any case, the regulation is still scheduled to be enforced on 1st July. There's a good chance the Coronavirus saga won't be resolved by then, so I think the same principles as what has been discussed in this blog post will apply.

Many thanks!

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frightened landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 15:39

@ The Landlord

I agree that mostly the HSWA applies to businesses that have employees, but "employees" is very widely interpreted for health and safety purposes.

Section 3 of the HSW Act requires all employers and all "self employed individuals" (whether they have employees or not) to conduct their undertakings in such a way that, so far as is reasonably practicable, people who are not employees but who may be affected by the business (for example tenants, their guests, tradesmen and visitors), are not exposed to health and safety risks.

In addition, people in control of non-domestic premises (that is, any premises used for business such a an Airbnb) have a duty (under section 4 of the HSW Act) towards people who are not their employees but who use their premises. Domestic dwellings are not covered by this provision but the common areas of a building divided into residential flats are covered.

Landlords of flats in converted buildings and Airbnb hosts/landlords should be very concerned and take positive steps to perform a risk assessment and ensure that common areas are cleaned in consideration for coronavirus (a biological agent) as they are statutorily obliged under the COSHH.

It is clear that many landlords are not aware of their obligations and it appears that those who do not take heed may possibly face criminal action and possibly imprisonment, in worst case scenarios.

Tenants affected by a Landlord's failure can also seek civil redress from the Landlord which if successful would result in a significant sum in 'compensation' being awarded, plus costs.

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Yashamatoto 4th April, 2020 @ 15:59

Yo 'Landlord'

The new electrical regulations are bit of a fog to me but I think the July 2020 deadline is for new tenancies, with existing tenancies held over until April 2021 (yields hopeful sigh of relief).

But I shall look forward to your caustic wit and take on yet another layer of landlord red tape.

Cheers

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frightened landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 16:01

Remember, the Health and Safety at Work Act creates criminal offences. Breaches of the Act can result in unlimited fines and imprisonment.

Remember also that the Health and Safety at Work Act imposes duties on everyone involved in the business, including managers and agents. They too can be found to be personally liable and in the dock alongside the owner of the business. The same applies to letting agents who themselves breach safety regulations or who connive in breaches of health and safety regulations by landlords.

In order their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act, Landlords and Letting Agents must conduct risk assessments and must have a health and safety policy that sets out the organisation and arrangements necessary to ensure the safety of employees and those likely to be affected"aka Tenants"

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 16:42

@frightened landlord

Can you reference any case where a landlord has been prosecuted for failing to comply with the HSWA, or is there any other reputable resource which can collaborate your guidance? You're the first person I've heard mention this.

The HSE are the prosecuting body for the HSWA, they don't mention anything about this applying to landlords (at least, not in the link I shared).

I think property managers and Airbnb hosts, as always, have the duty to ensure communal areas are safe, and that should be covered by existing health and safety legislation in the Housing Act.

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frightened landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 21:46

@ The Landlord

The focus is "self employed individuals" (whether they have employees or not). Landlords are self employed individuals (most are) who should conduct their undertakings in such a way that, so far as is reasonably practicable, people who are not employees but who may be affected by the business (for example tenants, their guests, tradesmen and visitors), are not exposed to health and safety risks.

Liability arises from the common areas of a shared building (s.254 HMO & s.257 HMO) so at the very least Landlords should ensure that a risk assessment is performed and appropriate cleaning measures are carried out (regular cleaning & disinfecting of high traffic areas such as door handles/light switches etc) in consideration for coronavirus (a biological agent) as set out under COSHH.

Granted, coronavirus has not brought before the courts for obvious reasons, but there is case law in regard to Legionella for which the HSWA and COSHH also applies.

As well as civil liabilities that a tenant or visitor to such a common area may wish to take advantage, and some no doubt will perhaps aided by the 'no-win-no-fee' types, such LL may also face up to 2 years impriosnment and an unlimited fine should they be unfortunate and face a magistrate or even worst a DJ.

Any Landlords with an interest and/or an estate in the common areas of a building as defined by Section 9A(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as inserted by Section 1(3) of the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018 needs to pay very attention and react accordingly. There are very serious repercussions ahead if we do not.

My Solicitor first warned me of the risks that l face with my 4 HMO's which has been confirmed by a Barrister at no little cost. I thought it best to share their warnings. Please take heed!

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frightened landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 22:02

Airbnb hosts are even more exposed because the same is considered a commercial enterprise, aka a business.

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The Landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 22:32

@frightened landlord
I hear you, I hear you.

I'm not going to disagree with a Barrister, for sure. And appreciate you sharing what your Solicitor has said about the issue.

To be honest, I think we're both in agreement about HMO landlords ensuring communal areas are safe (not just now, but all the time).

As said, I think the Housing Act that covers health and safety already enforces that (i.e. Fitness for Habitation Act, like you said), but I think the HSWA is more specific about hazardous chemical agents.

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frightened landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 23:51

@ The Landlord

I agree with you as well (and l think you provide a great service with your blog by the way!).

The Housing Act does apply to some extent, but with the present coronavirus pandemic, it is the liabilities under the HSWA/COSHH that unwary HMO LL's should be made aware as it may lead to bankruptcy (unlimited fines) and probable imprisonment, especially if a tenant gets or dies from the coronavirus.

I have been advised that all the infected tenant (or visitor) would have to say is "l believe l was infected by coronavirus in my HMO LL's property". Whether true or not. The costs alone to defend such an allegation would be substantial.

and if l could not produce documentary evidence in my defense that l cleaned and disinfected the common areas in consideration for coronavirus (at least 2-3 times per week) then l could not say that l made a reasonable effort to protect my tenants (and visitors) from a biological agent such as coronavirus.

The Barrister says even 2-3 times a week is borderline and l should really clean and disinfect the common areas on a daily basis as a 'belt & braces' approach to the matter. A lot depends on the public mood after the pandemic is over and hysteric witch-hunts start & whether the no-win-no-fee crew get involved.

I can imagine the headlines "My Landlord's negligence caused me to catch coronavirus" or even worst a claim from a relative who alleges that their son or daughter caught coronavirus in one of my HMO's who had subsequently died.

Rather than take any risks, l have 4 cleaners to clean the common areas of my HMO's 5 times per week.

I am not saying that other LL's should clean as often as l am (each to their own) but at the very least HMO LL's need to be made aware of whats ahead and then it is up to each LL how they deal with the situation...

Just my two pence worth!

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frightened landlord 4th April, 2020 @ 23:59

Well a lot more than 2 pence actually, more like 150,000 pence worth to be more precise!:-(

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Phil Duffen 5th April, 2020 @ 06:56

Why are they sat so close together? Unbelievable!

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Yashamatoto 5th April, 2020 @ 10:58

In relation to LL's obligations regarding Covid-19 cleansing, I can see how this MIGHT be applicable to HMO's but where there are common areas in say purpose built and converted homes into flats, then surely whoever is in receipt of any applied & paid for service charges &/or the superior landlord are responsible to undertake this duty?

After all why/how would a single flat lease owning LL be responsible for say a block of 20 flats that she/he has no control over the majority of?

Regardless of who's responsible, how would any tenant be able to prove they contracted the disease (or any other) from any common area, particularly as in Covid-19 the biggest risk is from person to person rather than surfaces?

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frightened landlord 5th April, 2020 @ 12:55

@Yashamatoto

The LL's liability arises if they have an interest and/or an estate in the common areas of a building as defined by Section 9A(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as inserted by Section 1(3) of the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018.

If the LL has such an interest and/or estate then the LL is considered to have (some form of) control.

It is true that a tenant may have difficulty proving they caught the disease from a common area, no doubt represented by one of those no-win-no-fee people. It is also true that it would cost a LL a significant sum in solicitors/barrister fees etc just to defend against such an allegation.

In such an unfortunate event that the LL cannot provide documentary evidence to prove that all reasonable steps were taken, then that LL has committed a criminal offence (up to 2 years imprisonment/unlimited fine).

On the other side of the pandemic there are likely to be many hysteric witch hunts going on at different levels, with the common theme being that people will be blaming professionals (rightfully or wrongfully) for failing to respond accordingly to the pandemic.

It appears yet again LL's will be common targets and seen as cash cows! Whats New?.

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Carmel 6th April, 2020 @ 18:17

Hi Thank you for all your useful information at this time on the front line. A Key Worker for sure. I have a lodger in my home and need to have a gas service/Cert to satisfy both Stat legislation and Worcester Bosch Guarantee and I am presently in self isolation. Will the same rules apply do you think please?

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The Landlord 7th April, 2020 @ 08:38

Ha, many thanks @Carmel!

Yeah, I believe the same would apply regarding the gas safety check for lodger situations. I would contact Worcester Bosch though, just to check what the situation is with preserving the Guarantee. If they say delays under the given circumstances won't impact the Guarantee, I would get it in writing/email.

Funny enough, I called out a Worcester Bosch engineer last week under Guarantee - they didn't even check for proof that I had serviced the boiler every year. And they sent someone out in 2 days to fix the issue. I was pretty impressed.

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frightened landlord 7th April, 2020 @ 10:20

@Carmel
@The Landlord

I was pretty impressed yesterday with British Gas Home Service - Tenant reported heating not working, l called BG and 3 hours later the tenants heating was back on!

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Dyna 12th April, 2020 @ 00:55

Going slightly off-topic - are any landlords proactively approaching tenants to see if they are financially ok?

I have great tenants - both professionals - but I am concerned they might lose their jobs or be put on part-time etc (less money coming in). I want to ask if they are ok - but I don't want to tempt anyone into - well as you asked - how about a rent holiday :) So is anyone doing the proactive bit?

What would The Landlord advise?

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The Landlord 12th April, 2020 @ 09:00

@Dyna
That question has been asked several times already, I think in the "coronavirus update 3" blog post.

To sum up: there are mixed views and I don't think there's a right answer. I know many landlords have reached out to their tenants, which is cool. I'm personally not going to do it, but rather wait for them to reach out to me if they need to (one tenant already has).

While I'm 100% willing to help and make life easier for any of my tenants that face financial difficulties during this time, my worry is that if I reach out to them with a friendly/considerate message, they may prioritise rent as the first bill to stop paying. Moreover, a lot of people are in survival mode right now and will grab at any opportunity - even good tenants. I don't blame them, but I don't want them to see my hand.

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dyna 12th April, 2020 @ 09:10

Thanks Landlord - I think you are right - that helps consolidate my thoughts which are entirely along those line.

cheers!

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Jay 24th April, 2020 @ 08:37

Hi Landlord,

Can legal4landlords help with difficult letting agents?

I have a guaranteed rent scheme for a property, which I am using a letting agent to manage for me but they have been a nightmare to deal with.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the letting agent sent a letter stating they will not be able to pay any rent or something minimal due to tenants not being able to pay.

I understand this can be an issue due to the current climate and I am happy to help where I can, I offered to give a holiday rent period or where the letting agent does not have to give full amount and we can negotiate a payment plan afterwards which they declined without hesitation.

Instead the letting agent wants a "discounted rate" for a period of 3 months where they pay minimal and not have to pay the difference back later.

But can they actually do this as our contract is different (between a letting agent and landlord) therefore it is exempt from the government ruling which is for tenats (even though tenats cannot do this themselves but are taking advantage of the situation).

I put this question towards them and now they are saying they are the tenants, which is very strange as I have a clear contract document which states they are the letting agent "The Company".

I have a feeling they may have created a fraudulent contract where they used my signature to sign a tenancy agreement where they are the tenats living currently in my property.

Please advise or let me know what I can do?

I am at with wits-end with these lot.

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The Landlord 24th April, 2020 @ 19:06

Hi @Jay,

I'm not 100% sure, but from what I'm aware Legalforlandlords only deal with problem tenants.

Ah, what a crap situation! I feel for you.

If they are legally obligated to pay rent every month and that has been guaranteed, then they should still be liable.

Anyone can request a discount, but it's completely up to the landlord.

However, I don't quite understand the situation. Are you saying that you think the letting agent is the tenant in your property? As in, the staff live in your property? I'm not quite following...

Is this a high-street letting agent?

In any case, letting agents are legally obligated to be a member of one of three government-approved letting agency redress schemes! If your agent ISN’T a member of at least one, they are NOT complying with the law and could face persecution (contact your local council for further information). So I would find out which scheme they are a member of and lodge a complaint with them.

But before that, it might just be worth telling the agent that you're only willing to accept a rent holiday or a rent discount on the basis that the money needs to be repaid through a repayment plan (if that's how you want it). A discounted rate with a payback plan (to cover the shortfall) sounds like the better option to me.

Then wait to hear their response. If they don't want to play ball, just warn them that you're going to contact the redress scheme for advice.

That's my thoughts on the matter anyways. Best of luck!

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Icky 14th May, 2020 @ 07:33

As always, very informative and a good read, thanks you for your continued insight.

Stay safe,as its a fo0ker of a virus even when moderate :-(

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