The government has updated its guidance for landlords, taking into account the new national lockdown. Below is a summary of the key points - you can read the guidance in full on the government’s website.
- To protect against coronavirus transmission, the government has changed the law to ensure bailiffs do not to enforce evictions in England over the period of national restrictions or over the Christmas period.
- This means that no eviction notices are to be served until 11 January at the earliest and, given the 14 day notice period required, no evictions are expected to be enforced until 25 January at the earliest.
- The only exceptions to this are the most serious circumstances:
- Illegal occupation.
- False statement.
- Antisocial behaviour.
- Perpetrators of domestic abuse.
- Where a property is unoccupied following the death of a resident.
- Extreme rent arrears equivalent to nine months’ rent with any arrears accrued since 23 March discounted.
- You can read more in the government’s guidance on possession action process.
- We will aim to provide further guidance shortly regarding the operation of the exemptions following consultation with the judiciary.
Repairs and maintenance
- Landlords can continue to carry out all repairs, maintenance and safety inspections during the new national lockdown, provided they are undertaken in line with public health advice and relevant coronavirus legislation.
- For more information, see the government’s updated guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable people can permit landlords and contractors to carry out routine repairs and inspections, providing that the latest guidance on social distancing is followed.
- Where a resident is not self-isolating and persistently refuses to allow access to the property, landlords still have the powers and tools available to gain access to their properties. This includes access to the courts to obtain an injunction.
- The government understands that current restrictions may make it harder to carry out routine or essential repairs and maintenance, but they expect landlords to make every effort to meet their responsibilities.
- If a resident is self-isolating, no work should be carried out in their home unless it is to remedy a direct risk that affects their safety or the safety of their household. In such cases, prior arrangements should be made to avoid any face to face contact, for example, when answering the door.
- The government recognises that measures such as self-isolating may make undertaking repairs and safety inspections more difficult – in such circumstances, provided the landlord can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to comply, they would not be in breach of their legal duties. For more information, read the HSE’s guidance for landlords.
Shared housing and communal areas
- There is no restriction on people moving permanently into new shared accommodation.
- Guidance on use of essential and non-essential communal areas remains unchanged, though providers should be aware of changes to the guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable. All residents should always do their very best to follow the latest coronavirus guidance.
- However, supported and sheltered housing with a restaurant, cafe or canteen facility may be impacted by the new restrictions on operating restaurants. We understand that many members have already closed or plan to close restaurant facilities. We are seeking further clarity from the government on what constitutes a restaurant within the context of a supported or sheltered housing scheme.
- Facilities serving food to homeless people are exempt from the order to close.