Coronavirus outbreak and private sector housing - questions and answers

This page was last updated: 26 August 2020

General information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Council services

The government has published detailed advice for tenants and landlords; some of the questions we are being most commonly asked include:

Can I ask, as an HMO landlord, for Council Tax relief to help offset the loss in income due to the coronavirus outbreak?

Help is available for landlords and businesses please see:

Can tenants stop paying rent because of the coronavirus outbreak?

There is no payment break or holiday for renters. They can only pause your rent payments if you as a landlord agrees.

Some landlords can apply for a break in mortgage payments if their tenants are struggling to pay rent due to coronavirus, but this won’t always be possible. They will still have to make up missed payments later.

Can I evict my tenant straight away because of coronavirus?

It's illegal for you to evict your tenant without following the proper steps.

Illegal eviction is a criminal offence - coronavirus doesn't change this.

It's likely to be an illegal eviction if you:

  • make your tenant leave without notice or a court order
  • lock your tenant out of their home, even temporarily.
  • Harass your tenant in an effort to make them leave.

Updated: What do the new rules on eviction mean?

The new rules do two things:

  • extend the notice period for evictions
  • suspend eviction court action

All court proceedings for eviction are on hold until at least 18th September 2020, regardless of when you applied to court.

This means most tenants can’t be evicted before the middle of September at the earliest. Tenants should stay in their homes.

Once evictions resume, Section 21 notices are now likely to require a six month notice period - see the Government's press release for more information

What if my tenant doesn't want anyone to access their house?

  • Tenants normally have to allow landlords access to carry out repairs.
  • If someone in the house is self isolating or at high risk, government guidance says that  landlords should only send someone if there is a serious problem that puts tenants at risk.
  • Tenants can ask you to postpone non urgent repairs.
  • Read more about the rules on access to your rented home for repairs during the outbreak.

What if I need to empty my property or move tenants during the lockdown period?

The government's stay at home guidance makes it clear that people should stay in their homes except in very limited circumstances.

Additional guidance on moving home during the coronavirus outbreak says that homeowners and renters should follow public health advice and delay the move where possible.

You'll probably need to:

  • postpone the move
  • negotiate with both your old and new tenants regarding the start and end dates of both tenancies

What if people in shared housing aren't following social distancing?

  • Tenant shouldn’t have people to visit who don’t normally live with you.
  • If you’re concerned people in your shared home aren’t observing social distancing, you could refer them to the government’s stay at home guidance.
  • You as landlords can ask them to change their behaviour.

What if my property needs repairs?

  • Landlords have the same responsibilities for repairs during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • You might not be able to get the problem fixed during the usual timescales but shouldn't delay repairs unreasonably
  • Anyone who comes to carry out repairs should follow government guidance on social distancing.

What if a gas safety inspection is due?

  • Annual gas safety checks are still an important legal requirement. 
  • You should rearrange any gas safety checks that are due if they cannot go ahead safely because someone in your house is at high risk or self isolating.

What about the requirement for landlords to ensure certain installations are in place or safe, for example electrical inspections, fire alarms, emergency lighting?

 The authority will consider carefully if landlords can show evidence that they have been unable to carry out inspections or works, despite having taken reasonable steps, before carrying out any enforcement.

Inspectors/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.

Housing Management Regulations require me to ensure common parts of my HMO are kept clean and the garden is maintained. Can I still do this?

  • Non essential work should be postponed during lockdown.
  • Anyone who comes to carry out maintenance should follow government guidance on social distancing.

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