Consequently, the British Landlords Association (BLA) has issued guidance on Coronavirus and how it impacts on landlords’ obligations recommending legal guidance and the UK Government’s own advice.
Realistically, landlords should decide whether a scheduled visit can be delayed, and remain in contact with their tenants to ensure that no emergency has arisen. The advice from the BLA is that only emergency or urgent repairs should be considered, and even then, recommended hygiene guidance should be followed and any direct contact with the occupier avoided.
Landlords have a legal duty when it comes to gas supplies, flues and appliances and must keep records of safety checks. Significantly the Gas Safe Register suspended inspections from midnight on the 23rd March 2020 until they receive more guidance from the Cabinet Office and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
If landlords are unable to gain access to their property, they must keep records of communications with tenants and details of any attempts to gain access. The HSE are seeking government guidance on what gas maintenance services are seen as essential over the next three weeks, and will publish information when it is to hand.
Whilst property inspections are important, in the current climate they may be difficult to carry out. Landlords should be aware that they have the right to refuse to carry out an inspection if there is a valid reason to do so, and they have made every reasonable effort to gain access to the premises. This makes a comprehensive audit trail a vital record to retain, including all communications with tenants and the authorities.
If you have access to the best home inspection software, widely available online at sites offering the best home inspection software you will be able to schedule inspections, keep a diary and create an electronic audit trail for each property. If the current pandemic makes it impossible to carry out an inspection your audit trail will record the reasons why this is the case.
If a tenant is self-isolating there is clearly a safety issue for landlords or their agents and they would be within their rights to decline to enter the property.