Since the outbreak, Propertymark has been in constant dialogue with Governments across the UK in order to ensure policy makers understand the impact that Coronavirus is having on the sector and that agents receive advice, guidance and resources.
Key questions Propertymark has been asked centre on letting agent and landlord obligations to provide regular gas safety inspections and the electrical safety regulations due to come into force for new tenancies on 1 July 2020 in England. The guidance outlines:
Gas and electrical checks
- Landlords should make every effort to follow existing gas safety regulations and the electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July. Both regulations allow for situations where a landlord cannot carry out their obligations and they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. The issue is outlined on page 19 of the guidance.
- Landlords must also provide tenants with all necessary gas and electrical safety and any other relevant certification documents at the beginning of a tenancy (and carry out all scheduled inspections and tests where required). Where inspections have already been carried out, documents can be provided by post or in some circumstances it may be possible to provide digital copies.
The guidance says that in relation to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020, if a landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the regulations, they are not in breach. This includes duty to comply with a remedial notice.
A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation, appliance or flue is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.
The Government is encouraging local authorities and other enforcement agencies to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to enforcement in these unprecedented times.
Access to property
Where agents are unable to gain access to a property due to restrictions in place to tackle Coronavirus or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, the Government recommend agents document their attempts to do so and all correspondence with their tenants.
The guidance also covers the new measures relating to notices seeking possession as amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020 and court action on possession cases during the Coronavirus outbreak. The guidance is advisory, and all guidance is subject to frequent updates and should be checked regularly.