Property sector re-opens – what does that mean for me as a landlord?

Aspire To Move know this is a challenging time for landlords, but if you are thinking about how coronavirus might affect your rental property we are here to assist. With effect from 13th May 2020 the government has given the go ahead for the property industry to open. However, this is done on the following guidelines to be adhered:-

Can I market my Property?

In essence an agent is able to visit your property to put it on the market as long as they follow the guidelines set. Select an agent who is able to still offer video and 360 tours as some purchases and tenants may still be isolating so you want to ensure you are able to market to all. We have PPE equipment ready to use for us to attend the home but we would ask that only 2 per household are present and we keep the 2 metre social distancing rule. We will also only attend properties if residents have show no signs of the virus. We would also encourage virtual valuations if you are able too at this stage. Safety during this period has to be the priority.

Can viewings take place on my property?

People should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks. If any member of either the household being viewed, or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed. All viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household.

We encourage people to do their property searching online wherever possible. Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and physical viewings should only be conducted where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property.

To support this, agents may ask home occupiers to conduct virtual viewings. This will help reduce the number of properties people need to visit before finding their future home.

• Viewings should be conducted by appointment only and no open house viewings should take place.

• If your property is being viewed, you should open all the internal doors prior to the viewing, and allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels.

• As most people choose to do, we encourage that you vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household.

• When viewing a property, all parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible. Agents will ask you to restrict the number of people who accompany you on a viewing so that social distancing can be practised, and only those in your immediate household should be there.

• We expect agents to accompany clients on a viewing but follow social distancing rules wherever possible. Where viewings are unaccompanied, agents should make sure viewers and homeowners understand how they should conduct themselves.

• Once the viewing has taken place, the homeowner should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.

Can my tenants still move in as planned?

Yes we are able to move people into homes but the strict guidelines must be adhered too. We are therefore ready with our PPE equipment to ensure we are able to move forward and get people moved in safely. We would recommend that you look at ways whereby you minimise contact with your tenants. One option could be to install a lock box at the property. We would also recommend that the property is left empty for a minimum of 72 hours before the tenant moves in

What if my tenant still cannot pay rent?

• Communication is key – can you discuss a payment plan with them and agree on it moving forward. Always get this in writing and ensure you have proof of their financial situation.

• Mortgage holiday – Can you apply for the homeowners mortgage holiday as announced by the Chancellor?

• Universal credits – Your tenants may be entitled to claim this benefit have they contacted them? Both Universal Credit and Housing Benefit were increased from April, Local Housing Allowance rates pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.

How does this affect repairs and maintenance on my property?

Landlords still have a contractual obligation to maintain and repair the property and emergency repairs should still go ahead following the safety guidelines. If possible, necessary repairs, gas and electrical safety checks should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If this is not possible and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised, for example with residents staying in another room during the visit. Our contractors will follow the guidelines as set out:-

• Tradespeople should contact the household in advance to check that no member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. If they are, works should be delayed.

• No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

• Tradespeople should wash their hands on entering the property using separate towels of paper towels which need to be washed or disposed of safely after use.

• Tradespeople should seek to minimise contact with homeowners and remain 2 metres apart from householders at all times.

• Tradespeople should implement a buddy system and ensure that the same people work together where this is needed.

• Tradespeople should bring their own refreshments but you should ensure they have access to hand washing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.

We offer full video tours on all our rental properties so please let us know and we can send these through on request. We also are available to skype/zoom/whatsapp with all our customers so if you would prefer virtual valuation or have any questions we are on hand and ready to help.

We would like to thank everyone for your support and the office is currently undergoing a full Coronavirus risk assessment and we look forward to opening again with safety being the upmost importance to us.

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