Frequently Asked Questions
We wanted to publish the answers to some of the more common questions in the hope that landlords and tenants find it useful. We are updating this page as and when the situation changes, so do check back (or feel free to submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Can you help me find a new home?
Yes, you can search our available properties on our website. We have been working hard to get video tours published (either taken by the tenant or our video providers where possible) so that you can 'view' them. If you would like to register a property search we recommend that you call or email rather than visiting our offices unnecessarily.
Can I book a viewing?
We are able to book viewings now, but have some new guidelines in place, for example limiting viewings to two people and requesting that you first carry out a virtual viewing where possible. It is important that you read all of our guidelines before attending a viewing. The procedures for applicants and tenants as well as other customer interactions can be found here although you will also be provided with details of our safety measures when you book a viewing.
When will your office re-open?
We are phasing in the opening of our offices from week commencing 25th May. However, this will be strictly by appointment only and we would ask that you follow our procedures for office visits at this time.
I'm thinking of letting out my property, can you give me a valuation?
Yes, we are now able to carry out in-person appointments and so will be able to visit your property to carry out a market appraisal. As with all other face-to-face appointments, safety is the most important aspect so we would encourage you to read our processes so that you understand how the appointment will take place.
I've reported a maintenance issue, when will it be repaired?
Maintenance issues crop up in all properties but some are more urgent than others. An 'emergency' would be a repair which is necessary to ease, reduce or remove risk to the safety, security or health of a tenant, the public or the property. Some examples might be water leaks, broken windows or doors following a break in, serious structural damage, no lights or no heating/hot water (assuming you've made basic checks). At all times we triage any fault reports, with emergencies being a top priority. During the pandemic we also need to triage based on contractor availability and whether the fault could wait until lockdown is lifted.
What can I do if I have a fault that is not classed as an emergency?
We fully understand that any fault can cause inconvenience for tenants and we would absolutely want you to report the issue via our Tenant Portal, but there are a few factors you could also check yourself which may fix the issue. For example, if the central heating is not working you could check the pilot light, the system pressure or the thermostat. If there is no lighting you could check the bulbs, the fuse box or check with your neighbours to find out if they are having issues as well.
Do I still have to do maintenance work?
A landlord's obligations to repair a property have not changed. However, both landlords and tenants should take a pragmatic approach to non-urgent issues at the moment. Where contractor visits happen, it's vital that no parties are displaying symptoms of coronavirus and that no-one in the property is self-isolating. Social distancing rules must be followed throughout the visit and any key exchange must be carried out according to our guidelines.
Are you doing property inspections?
No, we have suspended our routine property inspections until further notice. If you have any concerns about your property in particular then please contact your Property Manager.
Do I have to pay my rent during the pandemic?
As a tenant you will have signed a contract, just as you will have done for a mobile phone or car finance. As such, the rent is still due to be paid. However, if you are concerned about whether you can meet the full rental amount next month we strongly encourage you to get in touch with your agent or landlord as soon as possible. We would advise closely examining what you can afford; what money is coming in and going out? You can then speak to your landlord about a way forward. Reaching an agreement with your landlord as quickly as possible will help in the long term.
Why can't I have a rent holiday?
Only landlords who are struggling to make payments because their tenants are unable to pay the rent as a direct result of the coronavirus will apply for a mortgage holiday; it is not an automatic payment holiday for all landlords. A rent holiday, just like a mortgage holiday, does not mean that the amount of money owed disappears. It continues to build up and will still be due when the pandemic is over (except your monthly payments will increase in order to begin to cover the arrears). Moreover, according to most tenancy agreements, the tenant could also legally be charged interest on those arrears. A rent holiday should be a last resort as it is not the panacea that some believe it to be.
Do I have to let my tenant have a rent holiday?
We are recommending that tenants examine how much rent they can afford and to consider how they will pay back any arrears (rather than seeking a 'rent holiday'). We would advise landlords to consider how they can reasonably support a struggling tenant and what sort of 'delay' in rent payments they could accept.
If my gas safety record (GSR) expires soon, do I have to carry out a new one?
Gas safety inspections are considered essential works and so you must take all reasonable steps to arrange a new inspection. Of course, both contractor and tenant should follow social distancing practices and you should check that neither party is showing symptoms at the time. The GSR can be obtained up to two months prior to the expiration of the existing one, so it would be advisable to arrange the inspection as early as possible in that period.
Do the new Electrical Safety Standards still apply?
The Government has made no statement on delaying the introduction of these Regulations on 1st July this year, and so, at the time of writing, you must take all reasonable steps to obtain the Electrical Safety Condition Report (EICR) or else you will be in breach. Without a satisfactory result on the EICR your property can not legally be marketed or let.
What if my tenant won't allow me access for essential works?
If the tenant refuses access because they a showing symptoms and are self-isolating then you should arrange for the works to be done 14 days after the household first showed symptoms. For GSRs, the Health & Safety Executive has said it will not prosecute those who have done everything reasonable to obtain access to a property. As long as you have made at least three attempts to arrange access (and documented these attempts) then you can demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to carry out the inspection.
I have moved out of my property at the tenancy end, what will happen to my deposit?
We understand that many people are feeling the financial strain of the global pandemic and so we are doing our best to return deposits as quickly as is reasonable in these times. Any final inspections that we are able to conduct are being done at least 72 hours after the tenant has vacated the property and so delays are to be expected. Please note in order to ensure all parties remain safe, the final inspection must be done in the tenant's absence at this time. Any dilapidations are then agreed with the tenant in writing before the deposit is returned.
Is there a minimum amount of time my property must be empty before I can move the new tenant in?
As above, any moves which are not essential should be put on hold in accordance with government guidance. However, if you find yourself with one tenant leaving and a new one arriving, it is vital that you leave enough of a gap between tenancies to carry out any necessary works. If multiple contractors are needed to carry out safety checks or repairs then we would advise allowing 24-hour intervals between visits, meaning the whole process can take longer than usual.
Post updated: 26th May 2020