Renting a property

Q: I am just about to rent a property through you and the branch I am dealing with has closed due to Coronavirus. How do I manage to get into the property?

A: Whilst our branches are temporarily closed, we are still continuing to support our customers remotely. Please see the contact details shown on the relevant branch page of our website. Please note that it may take us longer to respond than would otherwise be the case. Please bear with us.

Q: The changes announced by the Government mean I have to stay in my rental property and so I need to cancel any non-essential maintenance visits. How do I do this?

A: Tenants are encouraged to make contact with us in the usual way via our Lettings Hub, your local lettings office or direct to your landlord. Repair or maintenance activity will be rescheduled for a time after the expiry of the current restrictions.

If you have been affected by the coronavirus, and when you are feeling better, you should clean the property following the government guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.

Q: If, as a tenant, I have a serious property maintenance issue, how will you manage this if your branch is shut or your contractors are self-isolating?

A: We have a central Lettings Hub that handles maintenance issues for landlords who subscribe to this service. The Hub operates away from our branch network and is currently fully equipped to handle all enquiries remotely. Please note that it may take us longer to respond than would otherwise be the case. Please bear with us.

We have a comprehensive panel of contractors to support us with maintenance issues although there are currently restrictions in place.

For landlords who attend to their own repairs and maintenance issues, we recommend that they review the following government publications

Q: In line with the Government advice, I am remaining at home. I would like to view a property is there a way I can do this remotely?

A: It might be possible for us to arrange a video stream or virtual viewing, subject to landlord consent. Please see the contact details for the relevant branch we will try to help. Please note that it may take us longer to respond than would otherwise be the case. Please bear with us.

Q: I am a current tenant(s) and my/our tenancy is coming to an end. Do I have the option to refuse visits from prospective tenants?

A: In line with the Government guidance we will not be arranging any viewings for the time being. Page 5 of 8

Q: I am due to vacate my rental property in the next few days and in light of the Government announcement what should I do now?

A: It is important that you make contact with us in the usual way via our Lettings Hub, your local lettings office or direct to your landlord although we are aware that check-out will be delayed and we can advise others who may be affected by this delay such as the next tenant. Please note that it may take us longer to respond than would otherwise be the case. Please bear with us.

We will then arrange a revised check-out date with you and will be able to advise what further rent is applicable to the extended rental period.

If you have been affected by the coronavirus, you should clean the property following the government guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. If you don’t, you risk the cost of cleaning being deducted from your security deposit.

Q: What do I do if I am worried, because of the coronavirus that I will lose my job and won’t be able to afford my rent, and could be evicted?

A: If you have any concerns about your current tenancy, we recommend that you follow the usual communication route via the Lettings Hub, your local lettings office or direct to your landlord. Please note that it may take us longer to respond than would otherwise be the case. Please bear with us.

Measures to protect tenants from eviction have been announced in England, Scotland and Wales.

On 25 March 2020 the UK Government confirmed, in relation to England & Wales:

  • Emergency legislation is being progressed to prevent the commencement of any new eviction proceedings from social or private rented accommodation for at least the next 3 months while this national emergency is taking place. This initial period could be extended to 6 months if needed. Evictions already in progress can proceed although this is dependent on relevant court procedures being available
  • This means that no new possession proceedings will commence via applications to the court will start during this period.
  • Landlords will also be protected as 3 month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages

During this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

On 18 March 2020 the Scottish Government published the following policy changes:

In the private sector, landlords will need to be equally supportive at during this public health crisis. We need to get the balance right between protecting tenants and ensuring landlords can continue to provide housing. To support this, we will address, through legislation, a temporary change in the current Private Housing (Tenancies) Act. Currently landlords can move to eviction if a tenant is in arrears for at least three months in a row and if at least one month rent is unpaid. At present, first tier Housing Tribunals will not uphold this if the reason for non-payment of rent is a delay or failure in the payment to tenants of welfare benefits such as housing benefit or universal credit. This is a crucial part of our current legislative protection. But this temporary change we will make goes further and will increase that rent arrears period from the current three months to six months

The Housing and Property Chamber announced that all hearings and case management discussions will be postponed from 19 March 2020, this means that there will be no new eviction orders granted for private rented tenancies until 28 May 2020 at the earliest.

In addition, the Welsh Government has confirmed that eviction proceedings will be suspended. We anticipate that otherwise Welsh policy will be the same as that of England.