Landlord guidance during COVID-19
March 25, 2020
Our main focus at Vesta is the health and safety of our customers, their tenants, our partners and our teams, so we are closely monitoring advice from the UK Government and the World Health Organisation.
We have created this blog page to provide landlords, tenants and investors with relevant information and resources to help you during these unprecedented times.
The UK Government has said that the single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. The most important place to get the very latest information from the UK Government is here - www.gov.uk/coronavirus. This site provides guidance and relevant information for everybody and we recommend this should be your starting point for information.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has confirmed that estate agents are not “essential businesses” under the new rules and so all estate agents should close their offices immediately. Last week, we took the decision that the entire Vesta Property team would work from home and we have been getting used to working remotely as a team for the last few days. So please bear with us! However, we are still very much open for business and we will be available to support you via email, online chat and by telephone.
The MHCLG also stated that there should not be any in-person viewings, routine inspections or house moves. So, whilst it is still possible for property transactions to complete this will be more difficult in the current environment, which is why, where possible, we are organising for online viewings to take place.
We expect further guidance from the UK Government relating to visits for essential property maintenance, minimum energy efficiency standards (and energy performance certificates), electrical tests and gas safety checks, and will update this blog when we have an update.
Tenancy evictions and agreements
For all landlords, please note the complete ban on tenancy evictions during these difficult times. Alongside these measures aimed at protecting tenants, the UK Government has also agreed to support landlords by extending the 3-month mortgage payment holiday to buy-to-let mortgages. More information on these measures can be found here.
For landlords with fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreements that are worried about their tenancies reaching their term, please note that under the Rent Act of 1977 if the fixed term AST is not renewed then it automatically becomes a rolling 1-month tenancy at the existing rental level. So whilst it would be preferable to have a new AST (which you or your lettings agent could do online using web-based e-signature tools such as DocuSign or EverSign), you should not need to leave your house to renew the AST!
National Residential Landlords Association
The NRLA (National Residential Landlords Association) provides expertise, support and tools to help landlords. In light of coronavirus they have a guide designed to provide information and support for landlords that will be regularly updated as the Government advice changes.
ARLA Propertymark, the professional and regulatory body for letting agents is working hard to seek clarification from Government across a number of areas where COVID-19 will impact its members and therefore landlords and tenants. To find out the latest visit their website here.
Vanessa and the team at Property Tribes provide an amazing resource and forum for landlords to get the support they need across a range of issues, regulatory and any other landlord or property related question. More recently they are providing information, advice, and insight around coronavirus issues and topics of relevance to landlords. To find out more visit their website here.
Landlord Today is another great resource to read the latest news and views – this article about the best approach when dealing with tenants is worth reading.
It has never been more important to keep tenants in their homes. We understand many landlords will still need or want to sell their investment properties and we are continuing to see demand to buy from our investor community.
As a result of the lockdown, we are working with landlords, managing agents and tenants to create video walk-throughs for each new property listing on Vesta. We are also in the process, where possible, of obtaining these videos for each of our current live listings. In certain properties we may also be able to provide virtual viewings with live real-time walk-throughs facilitated by the tenant or landlord where vacant. If you are thinking of selling go to our sell page here and we can start the process with you.
The Vesta team is working from home but we're still open for business and will be able to respond to calls, emails or webchat so if you have any questions please get in touch.