Coronavirus and Your London Rental Properties and Tenants
With the London rental market still trying to recover from the effects of Brexit, it is facing yet more problems in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus. This has, with good reason, left many landlords wondering what they should be doing concerning the virus with regards to their lets and tenants.
In the following post, we will discuss the advice you should offer your tenants and the measures you should take during this very trying and challenging time.
Always Refer Back to Official NHS Guidance and Direction from the Government
As is the case when there is any serious medical or health risks, you should refer to official information and guidance supplied by the NHS and the UK government. If your tenants or potential tenants have a relatively low risk of contracting it, it’s important that both you and your tenants fully understand the advice regarding hygiene and prevention of the virus.
That means thorough handwashing with soap and water, using tissues to cough into (or hands or the crook of your elbow, when tissues are unavailable) and wiping down surfaces regularly with disinfectant cleaners. You could either hand in printed leaflets or email tenants copies of the NHS advice direct from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19. That way you are doing your part to keeping people informed.
Regarding Tenants Who Self-Isolate
Due to the increasing spread of the virus, many people are either choosing or being directed to self-isolate themselves. As a landlord, you need to understand the implications this may have, while maintaining a considerate and sympathetic attitude. As a result of a tenant telling you they need to self-isolate, it could mean that they experience a reduction in their income which can obviously have a direct effect on their rental payments.
This is particularly the case where tenants are relying on benefits and statutory sick pay or are employed on a zero hours basis.
You should take the time to talk about this with your tenants and be as flexible as you can, where you can. Although there may be some tenants who will see the outbreak as a way of getting out of paying rent, the majority of people will be stressed and genuinely concerned.
Also consider the tenant cases individually. If they have not had a history of delayed payments or arrears, it is best to accept it’s a situation they are not responsible and trying to work a solution out.
Where you have tenants, who are most at risk, both the elderly and those with underlying health issues, you should make sure they have as much support as they need. It may be that just doing the bare minimum and sending them an email or giving them phone call, or even organising some shopping for them, could be a great help.
Regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation
If your property portfolio consists of many Houses in Multiple Occupation, then you need to understand that there is a greater risk of any disease or condition spreading. In these types of properties, the advice is that all tenants should stay within their own rooms as much as they possibly can and avoid the communal areas when possible. It is also important that they use their own tea towels, crockery and cutlery and wash their own dishes.
Where there is a tenant self-isolating, it is best for them to be scheduled to use the bathroom last, with separate cloths and towels and then ensure they clean the surfaces properly after they’ve finished.
Visits, where possible, should be delayed if possible, while tenants are self-isolating.
It is not something that most landlords are prepared for, so it is understandable that you may feel tense about it. However, it is important that you don’t panic and follow the clear directions set out by the powers that be.