Law guide: Landlords

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Contents

Landlords and coronavirus

In this section you'll find information and updates related to coronavirus that are relevant to the laws on letting a property.

The UK's response to coronavirus is changing regularly and often very quickly. While we'll continue to make every effort to keep this page up to date, there may be short periods where what you read here is not the latest information available. Where possible we've tried to provide links to official sources, so you can check the current situation.

Notice period extensions

England and Wales

Due to the pandemic, the government has temporarily extended the notice period for all possession notices to 3 months. This applies to all notices issued from 26 March 2020 up to and including 30 September 2020. The government may extend this further.

This is instead of the usual 2 months for section 21 notices, and 2 weeks for section 8 notices served on the grounds of there being 8 weeks of rent arrears.

All possession claims that are currently in court have been postponed for 90 days.

Scotland

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 has made temporarily made all 18 grounds for eviction in the private sector discretionary.

Possession notices served on or after 7 April 2020 have an extended period of up to 6 months, depending on the ground being used. For example, if you are seeking to evict a tenant for rent arrears, the minimum notice period before you can apply for an eviction order is 6 months. See mygov.scot for details of which period applies to each ground.

These provisions will expire on 30 September 2020, but may be extended by the Scottish Government to 31 March 2021, and then potentially for a second (and last) time to 30 September 2021.

Northern Ireland

So far, the Northern Ireland Assembly has not introduced similar extensions to notice periods. See Housing advice for Northern Ireland for more.

Gas safety checks and other repairs

Gas safety

Your health and safety obligations to your tenants haven't changed as a result of the pandemic, though they are probably more difficult to carry out.

Gas safety checks should continue. That may not be possible if you're unable to find a suitably qualified engineer still working during the pandemic, or because the tenants are self-isolating and refusing access. In those cases, make a list of all the actions you've taken to try and arrange the check, so that you can later show (if necessary) that you took all reasonable steps to fulfil your obligation.

The Gas Safe Register has published guidance for landlords on this.

Other repairs

Routine inspections and non-urgent repairs should be put on hold for now. However, you still have a duty to deal with urgent problems.

Tenants can still let builders or other tradespeople into their home while lockdown restrictions are in place, provided that:

  • they're there to carry out essential repairs or maintenance; and
  • they don't have any coronavirus symptoms.

If the household is isolating or contains a person who is being shielded (because they are particularly vulnerable), tradespeople should not enter unless the work is an emergency repair – that means something that poses a risk to the household if left unfixed (e.g. a water leak or an unsafe structure).

The tenants and the tradesperson should remain at least 2 metres apart at all times and follow all the standard hygiene advice (e.g. regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and/or use of gloves).

For more information, see government guidance on working safely in other people's homes.

Amendments to right-to-rent checks in England

Right to rent checks can now be made:

  • via video call; or
  • by tenants sending scans or photos of documents via email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals.

You must still make the check and use the Landlord's Checking Service if acceptable documents can't be provided. The government has also updated its right to rent guide.

Energy performance certificates deadline extension

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are still required when selling or renting a property. The current requirement is for reasonable efforts to be made to produce an EPC within at least 7 days of the day a property is put on the market.

However, social distancing measures must now be used when assessing a property. Therefore, new guidance will allow a further 21 days to produce it, where reasonable efforts have been made to obtain one. After this, enforcement action may be taken.

Government advice

Official advice on the effects of coronavirus is available for landlords in:

England

Wales

Scotland; and

Northern Ireland.

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