How do I let legally and safely during the COVID-19 crisis?
The property market is currently open for business. That means it should be possible to carry out most, if not all the functions required to let and manage property, while taking various specific precautions, of course.
Possibly the biggest challenge for us all right now is that, in addition to national restrictions and guidelines constantly under review and changing regularly, we’ve now seen the introduction of local area lockdowns. Different rules can apply from one area to the next - which may be as close as one street to another – so it can be hard to keep up to date with which rules apply to rental activity for your own properties.
If you are in any doubt, your local council website should have specific information for landlords and you can always call into your local Your Move branch for advice. But it’s essential that you do make sure you’re operating legally and safely, and taking other people’s individual situations into consideration.
If we let and manage your property, you should have already received information from us about our methods and processes, including our guidelines for viewing/visiting properties and risk assessment for working in other people’s homes.
One of the most important things is to make sure that everyone involved in a meeting or visit is happy with the safety precautions being taken. If you or anyone else has any concerns, it’s best to err on the side of caution. That might mean postponing or cancelling an appointment or simply adjusting how it’s carried out.
These are the main safety points:
- Social distancing remains the best way to avoid coming into contact with or spreading coronavirus. You should, as far as possible, remain 2m away from other people and limit the number of people you come into contact with, particularly indoors
- As it currently stands in England up to six people can meet, which depending on size, may mean more than one household. However, in some areas local lockdowns are imposing more stringent measures which ban households from mixing and it’s these local rules you need to be aware of, especially if self- managing
- Face coverings should be worn as much as possible when indoors and in line with government guidelines. Be aware that people may have medical and other legitimate reasons for not wearing them and they don’t have to specify these reasons, so it’s important to be sensitive. In these situations, keeping a 2m distance is especially important
- Hygiene is key, so wash and/or sanitise your hands regularly and make sure any surfaces that may be touched by you or others are sanitised after each contact
- Avoid passing physical paperwork between parties
Summary: 10 tips for managing property safely
- Try to limit the number of in-person visits
- Check that all parties involved in a property visit or meeting are in good health and aren’t showing any symptoms of coronavirus
- Always make sure your tenant is happy to have visitors in the property
- Make sure that anyone visiting a property maintains a 2m distance from other households
- Ask the tenant to clean any surfaces a visitor is likely to touch, both before and after the visit
- Ensure all doors are opened and lights are switched on before the visit
- Remind all parties to wash their hands both before and after the visit
- Remind all parties that they should avoid passing items (such as paperwork) between them
- If a contractor has collected keys to access the property, make sure the keys are properly sanitised before collection and again when they’re returned
- If you have any difficulty arranging for health & safety or other legally-required works to be carried out – whether that’s due to tenant concerns or the availability of contractors – make sure you document all your communications clearly, so you can prove every effort was made. Any works that have to be delayed or postponed should be rescheduled as soon as it’s safe and possible to do so