While we are all under direction to stay at home, and only travel for essential shopping and work, and maintain social distancing measures, it can be tricky for landlords to perform vital property maintenance.
According to government guidelines, landlords should still carry out urgent essential repairs and maintenance during the pandemic, and we have more information to help follow the guidelines while carrying on with your responsibilities.
The guidance from the government says that landlords are required to continue with ‘essential health and safety repairs’, ensuring that properties meet the required standard of health and safety for tenants.
Repairs and inspections need to be balanced against the risk of infection and the spread of the virus, so you’ll need to make a judgment call on urgent jobs and those that can wait.
The urgent issues that would affect the physical or mental health of your tenants include:
Structure and exterior
The landlord remains responsible for any repairs to the exterior of the property and must maintain that it is structurally sound.
This could mean issues with the fabric of the building, such as a leaky roof, or security issues such as a broken window or lock.
Heating and boiler
As noted in section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, landlords are responsible for the provision of safe, working heating in a property. A broken boiler means tenants are without heating or hot water, which could be detrimental to their health.
During the coronavirus outbreak, if white goods like fridges, freezers and washing machines break, it means tenants won’t be able to store food safely or have clean clothes. They’ll need to be fixed urgently.
Kitchen and bathroom
It is also the landlord’s responsibility to maintain all ‘sanitary installations’, such as toilets, sinks, baths, etc. Plumbing issues should be treated as urgent during the pandemic, as it can affect toilets and washing facilities.
Carrying out the work
The government says tradespeople can still carry out repairs and maintenance in people’s homes, as long as if the tradesperson isn’t sick or showing coronavirus symptoms. Should your tenants be self-isolating or high-risk, tradespeople can only “remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household”, and only if they are willing to visit the premises.
Everyone should follow social distancing guidelines, in all instances.
Always document the conversations you’re having with tenants and contractors about repairs and maintenance.
Landlords need to complete an annual gas safety check, and new electrical safety standards are being introduced in July. These mean that you’ll need to complete electrical safety checks every five years.
If you or your contractors are required to visit the property for repairs and maintenance during the pandemic, then:
- avoid all direct contact with tenants
- ask tenants to stay in a different room for the duration of the visit
- wash your hands often (before, during and after your visit)
Keep in contact with your tenants and let them know that it’s important for them to tell you if they’re self-isolating. And, as always, make sure you give your tenants at least the minimum required notice. Read the government advice on social distancing and hygiene for more detailed guidance.
If you need property maintenance equipment, then get in touch!