Advice for landlords during the Coronavirus outbreak
Government measures to protect renters and landlords Toggle accordion
The government has announced a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.
Emergency legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.
Recognising the additional pressures the virus may put on landlords, the government have confirmed that the three month mortgage payment holiday announced yesterday will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus. This will alleviate the pressure on landlords, who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and will mean no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result.
More details can be found at:
Landlord property inspections during Coronavirus outbreak Toggle accordion
We have received enquiries about routine property inspections, of HMOs in particular, in light of the current situation with Coronavirus.
Each situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis, but we have set out some overarching advice and provided links to trusted sources of information.
Whilst you have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure that your properties are legally compliant, you also have a duty to protect yourself, your staff and your tenants.
The government has advised us to stop non-essential contact with others and all unnecessary travel.
This would include full routine inspections of properties; however inspections of the common parts of HMOs, for example to ensure that the fire precautions are working, may be possible without the need to come into contact with the tenants if these are done by prior appointment.
In all cases, the recommended hygiene practices should be followed: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19
Inspections of properties and the undertaking of necessary remedial works where tenants are exhibiting symptoms should only be undertaken in response to emergency situations, and in accordance with the recommended hygiene practices.
Whilst not an exhaustive list, we would recommend that you consider the advice below. This is a fast moving situation; please make sure you check back regularly to ensure the advice hasn’t changed.
Rent and housing benefit
Rent – The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate Toggle accordion
Should your tenant receive benefits towards paying rent, we recommend that as a landlord you set the rent as close to the LHA rate as possible. This makes the property affordable for your tenant. It also decreases the possibility of the tenant facing financial difficulties including unpaid rent to yourself.
You can check the LHA rate for your property at:
Rent benefit payments Toggle accordion
Once the tenancy has been signed, eligible tenants should make an application for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Support to set up their benefit payments. Benefit assessments can take 4-6 weeks to process, and the rent benefit payments for tenancies will be backdated to the start date of the tenancy. These benefits are paid 4 weekly in arrears.
Keeping rent statements Toggle accordion
As a landlord we recommend you keep a track of your rental payments, whether owed or received. It is good practice to supply your tenant with a statement every 6 months so they are aware of their rent payments.
Safety regulations and certificates
The electrical equipment (safety) regulations  Toggle accordion
Electrical supply and any appliances you supply within your property must be safe. We recommend that you inspect electrical appliances annually and keep a record of the checks that you carry out. Smoke alarms should also be fitted in all let properties and checked regularly to make sure they are in full working order.
The plugs and sockets (safety) regulations  (Consumer Protection Act ) Toggle accordion
Any plugs, sockets and adaptors that you supply in your property must comply with the appropriate current regulations.
The smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations  Toggle accordion
Since 1st October 2015, private sector landlords have been required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove).
Landlords must also make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
Where properties are found to missing detectors the Council will serve a remedial notice on the landlord requiring them to be provided.
If a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice the Council must do the works themselves and may serve a penalty charge notice of up to £5,000.
More information can be found in the Smoke and carbon monoxide: alarms explanatory booklet for landlords.
The furniture and furnishings (fire) (safety) regulations  Toggle accordion
It is an offence to install any furniture in let properties which does not comply with the regulations. Furniture with stuffing, springs, cushions and covering fabric must have fire resistant filling material and pass a cigarette resistance test. Labelling on furniture will often confirm compliance with these regulations.
Gas safety certificates and checks Toggle accordion
Landlords are legally responsible for ensuring the gas appliances in their properties are safe and fit for purpose. As a Landlord, you have 3 main responsibilities:
Maintenance – you must ensure that gas appliances are maintained and kept safe for use.
Gas safety checks – an annual gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance.
Record keeping – you must provide a record of the annual gas safety certificate to your tenant within 28 days of the check, or to new tenants before they move in to the property. You must keep your gas safety records for 2 years. These checks must be carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Toggle accordion
Landlords must provide a valid EPC when they let a property. The EPC is valid for 10 years and may be reused for as many times as required until it expires. The EPC provides a rating for the energy performance of your property. This rating ranges from A to G, where A is very efficient. All properties let by private sector landlords will need to have an EPC rating of E or above – some exceptions do apply.
See domestic private rented property minimum energy efficiency standard landlord guidance for more information.
Tenancies and notices
Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) and periodic tenancies Toggle accordion
The AST determines how much rent the tenant will pay. It will state how long the tenancy lasts, and who is responsible for repairs.
End of the fixed term Toggle accordion
After the initial fixed term, the landlord and tenant have the opportunity to renew the fixed term period. If not renewed, then the tenancy will become ongoing (periodic) until either landlord or tenant serves a notice of termination.
Ending a tenancy Toggle accordion
You must follow strict procedures if you want your tenant to leave your property. For information on ending tenancies, please see: www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants
Government guidance Toggle accordion
- The How To Let guide
This guide is for current and prospective landlords. It explains the responsibilities, legal requirements and best practice for letting a property in the private rented sector. It is not intended to cover leasehold, holiday lets or ‘resident landlords’ who let to lodgers.
The Guide For Landlords: Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act 
This document provides guidance and advice to landlords of domestic rented properties about the minimum standards required to let domestic property under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (‘the Act’).
The Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS): guidance for landlords and property-related professionals.
The Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. It was introduced under the Housing Act  and applies to residential properties in England and Wales.
This guidance is aimed at non-specialists, in particular private landlords, to help them understand the requirements under the Housing Act  and help them identify the type of work that is needed on their properties to conform with the HHSRS.
Hertfordshire’s Better Business for All partnership Toggle accordion
Hertfordshire’s Better Business for All partnership has produced a guide for landlords.
External links Toggle accordion
Do you have a property to let?
Here at St Albans City & District Council we have our own internal lettings service, called Mosaic Lettings.