The Government issued detailed advice to landlords and tenants over the weekend to clarify the situation regarding repairs and maintenance during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Despite the current need for social distancing, landlords’ repair obligations have not changed. Tenants still have the right to a decent home – and it is in the best interests of both tenants and landlords to ensure that properties are kept in good repair and free from hazards.
Good management requires regular review and maintenance of a property, but planned inspections just got a whole lot more difficult. However, that is no reason to allow dangerous conditions to persist. So tenants are being encouraged to inform landlords early and engage constructively with them if they have a problem with the condition of their property. Tech solutions such as photos taken and sent via smartphones should be used wherever possible to reduce the need for contractors to attend sites and carry out inspections.
Where reasonable – and safe – landlords should make every effort to address any issues raised by tenants – and don’t forget to keep a record of what you did. You can find further guidance on visiting properties to make repairs here.
Inspectors or maintenance workers can still visit blocks of flats and multi-occupied properties for essential or urgent work such as inspecting and testing fire alarm and emergency lighting systems. The Government has stated that “urgent health and safety issues” are those which will affect your tenant’s ability to live safely and maintain their mental and physical health in the property.
Here’s a list that might help:
- If there is a problem with the fabric of the building for example, the roof is leaking
- If your boiler is broken, leaving your tenant without heating or hot water
- If there is a plumbing issue, meaning your tenant does not have washing or toilet facilities –
- If the white goods such as the fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning the tenant is unable to wash clothes or store food safely
- If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door
- If equipment a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair
Where property repairs aren’t urgent, landlords and tenants should use their common-sense. Wait until social distancing is no longer needed before tackling any problems that are inconvenient but that your tenants should be able to live with for the time being. Unnecessary visits to someone’s home by strangers could threaten their health and that of their family – so tenants should be encouraged to stay safe. That draughty window can wait.