How to Manage Repairs and Gas Safety Checks on Rental Properties and Maintain Social Distancing
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of issues in the lettings sector, not least when it comes to the tricky process of being able to manage repairs and gas safety checks on rental properties and maintain social distancing. The government urges those who live in different households to stay at least two metres apart in order to help stop the spread of Covid-19. In addition, there is the risk of a healthy person inhaling particles left by an infected individual, even without them breaking the two-metre rule.
Bearing this in mind, it can be confusing for letting agents and landlords to know how to proceed with completing repairs and maintenance on their properties, as well as performing important tasks such as gas safety checks.
Thankfully, the government and relevant bodies have issued guidance that should help with some of these issues. If you are a letting agent or landlord, here’s how you can manage repairs and gas safety checks on rental properties during this lockdown.
Guidance for Tradespeople in Properties
If you send a tradesperson to a rental property, you must check that they have absolutely no symptoms of coronavirus, no matter how mild. Similarly, you should not ask a tradesperson to work in a property where tenants are self isolating or where a person is being shielded. The only exception to the latter rule is where failure to fix the problem provides a direct risk to the safety of the residents. In this case, the tradesperson must be fully aware of the status of the tenants and happy to proceed with the work.
At all times, the tradesperson must maintain a distance of at least two metres between themselves and the members of the household. It is also recommended that both tenants and the tradesperson regularly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching their faces.
Duty to Carry Out Repairs
Landlords and letting agents must still abide by the regulation that they keep the property in good working order. They are obliged to carry out urgent and essential maintenance work that is vital to the wellbeing of the tenants. However, for non-essential repair work, the government is asking landlords and tenants to come to an agreement together over the best way to proceed. This could mean that they leave the job until after lockdown finishes. Alternatively, it could be that the tenant agrees to perform the repair themselves.
Despite the lockdown, it is allowable for landlords, letting agents and tradespeople to leave their home. One of the few reasons for not staying indoors during this period of coronavirus disruption is if you are not able to carry out your work at home. In addition, you are allowed to leave home to comply with legal obligations, such as essential maintenance work on rental properties.
Duty to Carry Out Annual Gas Safety Checks
The government has stated that landlords and letting agents “should not suspend all gas safety checks” because that could put tenants’ lives at risk. However, if there is trouble with access or securing the services of a Gas Safe engineer, they may be allowed to miss these usually mandatory checks under some circumstances.
Property owners are asked to take these decisions on a case-by-case basis. They should take into account the age of the boiler or other gas appliance, how recently it has had work carried out upon it, its breakdown history, the proximity of carbon monoxide alarms, the vulnerability of the tenant (other than the Covid-19 risk) and other factors when choosing to delay these checks.
If you have attempted to gain access to a property to carry out an annual gas safety check, you should keep records of all communication with your tenants. This will prove that you did all you could to comply with the law.
Of course, where there is a problem with a gas appliance, this should be fixed as soon as possible while maintaining social distancing rules.
Need Help to Manage Repairs and Gas Safety Checks on Rental Properties and Maintain Social Distancing?
If you need help to manage repair and gas safety checks on rental properties and maintain social distancing, talk to Executive Property Management Solutions. We can take on these tricky tasks in lockdown and in more regular times as well. This helps you concentrate on growing your business without getting bogged down in all the issues that come with managing rental properties. Use the Contact box below to talk to us about your requirements today.