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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Maintenance work CAN be carried out in homes says government

The government has yet to give explicit guidance relating to private rental maintenance, but new advice this morning appears to shed some light on the issue. 

While Propertymark says the government is still looking into property maintenance tasks such as gas safety checks, a statement at 7am today from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government offers more clarity.

It says:

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. 

Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

However, agents and landlords may still be wary of sending in maintenance staff.

In practical terms, many builders' merchants are closed.

And wider issues such as liability should a tradesperson either apparently picks up or apparently transmits Coronavirus while working in an occupied property remain uncertain.

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    Great news from the government’s latest statement clarifying the maintenance issue. Emergency maintenance can be carried out if all the precautions are taken. Our advice to all our tenants is to open the door and then stay in one room away from where our engineer is working. Our gas engineers, electricians, plumbers, roofers and locksmiths are all wearing PPE and following Public Health Guidelines. At GPM UK we are constantly striving to support our Landlords and Agents and never more so than now in these challenging times.

    Stephen Chipp

    I dont read this as only 'emergency' maintenance can be done but all maintenance as long as proper process is followed...?! In fact it seems to suggest even if someone is symptomatic contractors could attend in an emergency?!

    Does anyone read it differently?

     
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    I read it as we don’t have enough police to forcible lock us down and they are trying their hardest to not cause either a panic or realisation that mass civil disobedience would be difficult to contain. Everything Govt. is saying is to appeal to the public’s better nature.

     
  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    How can anyone Read Only EMERGENCY Maintenance, as ANY maintenance, - do people not get what the Govt are trying to do for the greater good ( whether you agree with it or not )

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    It is too difficult to determine what is essential works. I have a property where the tenant has a leak from the flat above (also mine) which means that either she can't use her second bedroom or he can't have a shower. However, the agent who manages these for me says that the work doesn't constitute essential work. The tenant is, rightly, annoyed because she can't use her second bedroom and is threatening to pay the rent for a one bedroom flat ad this was an issue she had before lockdown that we thought was fixed. Is she right or the agent?

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    If your agent doesn’t believe that a leak from one flat to another is essential work, then find another agent! The leak is damaging your property.

     
    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Water leaks causing damage - are Essential - Emergencies, in my view and I don't think anyone would disagree.

     
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    I have a second house which I am renovating myself. I don't run it as a business and so only pay CGT when I sell. I do most of the work myself and the property and the gardens still need to be maintained. I don't employ someone else to do it, I do most of it myself.
    Is this permitted under the lock-down rules?
    If I pay someone else it seems ok but there is no reference to owners doing their own work.
    Any comments/advice gratefully received.

    Matthew Payne

    Hi Jonathan, in your case as an owner it would be regarded as a hobby and not essential maintenance even if the garden does get a bit overgrown. Yes if you employ someone they can do it, as they cant carry out their job remotely. The key is all about movement not what you may be doing. An employed person is permitted as HMG doesnt want to deny them the opportunity to work if they can do so safely. You travelling there would be regarded as non essential as your livlihood is not dependent on it, and CGT payments in the future wont count. They are trying to limit the number of unecessary car journeys as statistically there will more accidents, more ambulances called away from the front line.

     
    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Its the 'work' that's essential - required that is the issue - Not WHO does it.
    ( In my professional opinion. )

     
    Matthew Payne

    The implication of rennovation was that nothing was essential, so any of us doing DIY away from our homes would not be allowed. However, if you are a trade and you are doing work on an empty property following social distancing regs, as your livlihood depends on it, then that would be allowed, so the WHO is relevant depending on the cirmcumstances. I know plenty of trades who are still working and being allowed to work, gardeners are still out in force as well. Bet you get a ticket though if you get pulled over and you tell him you are off to mow auntie bettys lawn for her.

     
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    Thanks Matthew for giving me your view on this and I can see the point you make but there are some other factors. Empty properties deteriorate and need to be periodically checked. I am not referring jobs that can wait, plenty of those! However, for example, the boiler needs to be partially drained down to get at the pump which seems to have become blocked and either the system flushed through or a new pump fitted. What you are suggesting is that someone I pay can travel to do it but I can't.

    Matthew Payne

    I am sure there are some jobs that could be justified as essential maintenance that cannot wait, but there will be plenty of others that will not. Rennovation is a broad brush, pardon the pun. Ultimately it will be down to the interpretation of the law and judgment of the police officer if you get pulled over.

     
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    I have a property which is a second home, 45 miles away. I don't let it out but it is used by members of the family at no charge. I'm now concerned because I would normally go at least every couple of weeks just to check everything is in order. My insurers insist on it. It's gone seven weeks now. It's the sort of place that needs continual minor upkeep, which I do myself. So how do I stand here, just to pay a visit?

    Matthew Payne

    Hi Andrew, its all down to the interpretation of the police if you were stopped. It doesnt sound unreasonable to visit a property you own once in 7 weeks to check it's still standing when there is far more blatant abuse of the lockdown taking place every day. I always find it amusing how so many people go to do there essential shopping on a sunny weekend dressed head to toe in leathers on a 900cc sports bike with no panniers, no rucksacks, along with their 5 mates who have also decided to do their shopping at exactly the same time, equally as unprepared.

     
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    Many thanks for your comments Matthew. I think I'll be able to have a good reason if needed.

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    Hi, I am the owner of a second home in Cornwall that we use ourselves and rent out through a local holiday company when not in use. It is a stone cottage that needs airing to stop mould and salt growing on the walls, especially as just before lockdown we had work done to divert a seasonal stream, which made everything very damp, including a newly laid floor. I anticipate scrubbing walls, repainting, jet washing the algae residue from the stream, applying salt inhibitors etc. We do the work ourselves and as we’ve already lost 3 months rental income, we can’t afford to pay a tradesman. All the housekeeping staff have been furloughed, so no one has been in since late Feb. The cottage is in a remote hamlet, with a large garden and not in any of the traditionally overcrowded tourist hotspots of Cornwall. We live a good 6 hours away, so it’s not feasible to not stay over night to check on the property, or if we did, we’d probably be so tired on the return journey, we’d likely have an accident and be a strain in the nHS. Also the work involved would take the best part of a week. As we let it through the holiday letting company and as it’s very popular, we had bookings from last year, so could potentially begin to reinvite guests in July. We are then fully booked July through to mid October, therefore the house needs to be ready in order to do that. We also want to use the house ourselves, which we normally don’t do during the main 6 wk school break, but as we now can’t go abroad, for our pre-planned holiday in Mexico in August and as we haven’t been able to visit our second home,as usual, we feel reluctant to let paying guests/strangers go in our stead. Advice please? We would like to go next weekend, as it coincides with our daughters half term, so easier to fit around her online schooling. She’ll happily sit in the garden and read.

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    Hi

    We are in a very smilier position to you however my Wife manages, runs and does all the turnovers after guests in our property.

    We left it in February and haven't been back since, it has a 1/2 acre garden and we usually spend May preparing the house and grounds for guests.

    The property is 2.5 hours away and we now have at least a weeks work to get it back into shape for guests coming in July!

    The Gov states :

    If it's reasonably necessary - for work/volunteering, care to a vulnerable person, emergency assistance, to "avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm", or to obtain medical assistance.

    My wife is self employed and we run the house as a business so now is the time to get the house in shape.

    I think that the Government has done a poor job of communication with independent holiday let providers and their guidance is weak!

     
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    I know it's very, very awkward but the rule is clear: no staying overnight.
    Unfortunately it's ambiguous on second homes so far as "visiting" is concerned. The whole section is about staying overnight somewhere other than ones home but then says no "visiting" of second homes!!!!!!!
    Use your own judgement.

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    Thanks, exactly as I thought.

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    It’s a great source of knowledge; I think it will be helpful for lot of people who are looking for learning more about the maintenance work can be carried out in homes says government. Thank you very much for sharing this article.

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