First out of the blocks today, the Westminster government has compiled almost all of its agency and property industry-related new laws and regulations in one place for the first time.
None of these measures is actually new - they are the ones announced over the past four weeks - but the guidance on home moving, renting and eviction, and Energy Performance Certificates can now all be found in the ‘housing’ section here.
And the Scottish Government has updated its guidance for letting agents and landlords with an update on the short-term emergency loan scheme, confirmation about the new rules on evictions and postponement of the proposed new energy efficiency regulations.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 is now in force and the guidance also reiterates information on when to do safety checks, and for the approach to gas certificates.
You can get more details here.
Finally today we’ve had a set of top tips come through from London buying agency and property consultancy Aykroyd & Co regarding what it calls “compassionate property management” - an interesting take on the situation for tenants and agents right now.
Here they are:
1 Open a line of communication with your tenant. A lot of people are struggling financially and may not know how to approach the situation of being unable to pay rent in full. They need your help;
2. If your tenant is struggling to pay the rent, work with them to agree a repayment plan. Most tenants are genuinely trying to do their best to meet their obligations. From a financial perspective, it is better to have a tenant in situ at this time than no tenant at all;
3. Where are your tenants during the crisis? As many people have fled London during lockdown, the property may be left empty for several weeks/months. Don't be reluctant to ask the questions: have they locked up, turned the alarm on. It is also vital that someone is able to inspect the property once a month to ensure no leaks, etc. Many insurance policies require this;
4. If a renewal of a tenancy is coming up in the next four months, try to get it agreed now to secure the tenants;
5. If a contractor needs to enter a property, ask tenant and contractor the obvious question. Has the contractor or tenant had Covid-19, or do they currently have it?;
6. Emergency works may be required. If the tenant is worried about people entering the property, the tenant can isolate themselves into a room whilst the contractors work. Once works are completed, the area can be disinfected;
7. Ensure your contractors are taking all necessary precautions when entering the property. Again, ask the questions;
8. Speak to your contractors to see who is working during the lockdown. If an emergency should arise, you will know whom to call;
9. If your safety certificates are due for expiry, don't panic. Many contractors are still carrying out these checks. We would advise to get these booked in immediately, even if the certificates are expiring in three months. In some cases, the tenant may not provide access. Keep a record of this. The government requests that you are able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable measures;
10. Lastly, even in this difficult time there is a solution to everything - sometimes it just takes thinking out of the box. Regular, considered and honest communication will go a long way to building a good relationship with your tenants. And a good relationship will go a long way to finding solutions.