Government guidance for tenants
The government has published guidance for tenants who may be affected by current events. It explains:
- measures relating to notices seeking possession as amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020
- court action on possession cases during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- property access and health and safety obligations in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
If you or another tenant develops symptoms
Anyone who lives alone with even mild symptoms is now advised to self-isolate for seven days.
For people who live with others, the advice is for all other members of the household to self-isolate for 14 days from the point the first person showed symptoms. If anyone does develop symptoms towards the end of this period they should still isolate for seven days from the point of showing symptoms.
If your landlord needs to self-isolate
Your landlord needs to avoid exposing you to COVID-19. Ensure that you know the alternative property management arrangements in place with your landlord in the event that your property needs urgent repairs and he/she becomes ill or needs to self-isolate.
If your landlord is carrying out works to your premises
Essential repairs should still be being completed including fixing problems with water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage, heating and hot water, pest control, leaks and works to windows and doors that may affect security. Non-essential repairs and maintenance should not be taking place during this period.
Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople are expected to follow advice on social distancing when entering their premises to carry out work.
Cleaner visits to your rented accommodation
Landlords with a cleaning responsibility in their properties should still be organising cleaning. Cleaners should have an up to date health and safety risk assessment including COVID-19. NHS advice on how to stop germs spreading
Barnet Councils help for tenants
The council is continuing to provide a complaint response service during this period as part of our commitment to ensure all tenants have a safe place to live. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Struggling to pay your rent due to COVID-19
If you are experiencing difficulty paying your rent because of the coronavirus try and work with your landlord to reach an agreement. Any person(s) convicted of illegal eviction or harassment may be liable for up to two years’ imprisonment.
Under new legislation from 26 March 2020 landlords must give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy) – this means the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period. This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30 September 2020 and both the endpoint, and the three-month notice period could be extended if needed.
This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors in England and Wales, and all grounds of evictions. This includes possession of tenancies in the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Act 1988. After three months, if the tenant has not moved, a landlord needs to apply to the court in order to proceed.
From 27 March 2020 the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action – this means that neither cases currently in or any about to go in the system can progress to the stage where someone could be evicted.
This suspension of housing possessions action applies to those in both England and Wales and will initially last for 90 days but can be extended if needed. This measure will cover all private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages and those with licenses covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Maintaining standards in rented properties
The government has also published guidance for local authorities in England how to effectively enforce standards in rented properties (including housing associations), meet their legal duties and support landlords and tenants during the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.