Department of Housing published its definitive list of guidance and rules for landlords or letting agents who want to rent out a property now that home moves are permitted once more.

The government has issued more detailed guidance to landlords after it was revealed yesterday that the private rental market could re-open for business today.

Its guidance stresses that tenants’ safety should be letting agents’ and landlords’ priority, and gives advice on to help them safely let empty properties or properties that tenants have agreed to vacate for a few hours while viewings take place.

“While broader measures to protect tenants during the coronavirus outbreak remain in place, letting agents and landlords should endeavour to avoid ending tenancies where the tenant wants and is able to stay,” the government says.

Ministers have also released an eight-point checklist for landlords and letting agents to consider before renting a property. These are:

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  • Private landlords and letting agents should not conduct viewings in properties where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are clinically extremely vulnerable and are shielding.
  • In other cases, where viewings can proceed, they should be conducted in line with Coronavirus guidance – including keeping two metres’ distance during viewings, providing hand washing facilities to those visiting a property and keeping doors and windows open.
  • If possible, necessary repairs, gas and electrical safety checks should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If this is not possible and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised, for example with residents staying in another room during the visit.
  • Landlords should make every effort to abide by gas and electrical safety requirements, which continue to be of great importance for tenants’ safety. This may be more difficult due to restrictions associated with the coronavirus outbreak, for example where a tenant has coronavirus symptoms, is self-isolating or shielding. Under such circumstances, provided the landlord can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to comply, they would not be in breach. See further Health and Safety Executive guidance on how to deal with specific circumstances. Letting agents may also want to consider obtaining landlord and tenant consent for inventory clerk appointments to also occur before a tenant moves in or after a tenant moves out during vacant periods if possible.
  • Letting agents and landlords should take steps to ensure any properties are prepared ready for new tenants, this may include cleaning to minimise any potential spread of the virus in line with government advice.
  • Letting agents and landlords should consider how best to conduct tenancy check-ins for new tenancies agreed while broader measures remain in place, taking care to follow government advice on social distancing to minimise possible spread of coronavirus.
  • Letting agents and landlords are reminded of the temporary COVID-19 measures that adjust right to rent checks, temporarily allowing these checks to be conducted remotely. Lettings agents and landlords should consider other areas where in person payments, referencing or checks can be conducted remotely instead and take further advice if required.
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