Coronavirus (COVID 19): information and guidance for tenants
The situation with coronavirus is changing daily and we are aware that you may be feeling concerned.
Visit the NHS coronavirus web page for information on:
- how to protect yourself
- what to do if you think you might have coronavirus
We have produced some frequently asked questions below which we hope will help you with most issues arising at this time:
Can I still contact my landlord about repairs needed in my home?
During this time, landlords are still required to carry out essential works. These include water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage problems, pest control and heating failure.
Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople are expected to follow advice on social distancing.
All non-essential work and repairs will not be required to be carried out during this time. But, please still report any issues by telephone, email or online. This is so a record can be kept and the works carried out when the risk of coronavirus has been reduced.
My landlord wants to come in and carry out repairs – should I let him?
Landlords can only come in to carry out essential works (see above). Routine tenancy inspections, viewings towards the end of your tenancy and all non-essential work should not be taking place during this period.
Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement. You should allow access for these if you are not self-isolating (see below).
My landlord wants to come to my house but I am self-isolating because of coronavirus – can I refuse access?
If you are self-isolating you are advised to avoid any visitors to your home. Please tell your landlord or agent that you are self- isolating. You don't have to give them details about your health.
If an emergency repair is needed in a self-isolating household, you and your landlord should assess this, following public health advice. Examples of an emergency repair would be an electricity or gas cut off, a severe water leak or emergency works to make your home safe or secure. In such circumstances, your landlord or contractors must take the precautions needed (i.e. full protective clothing) to keep everyone safe.
In other cases, keep talking to your landlord and once you have completed the self-isolation period, you can arrange a suitable time for the repairs.
Can I complain to the Council if my landlord won’t deal with my repairs?
The Council is continuing to provide a complaint response service to tenants during this period. This is as part of our commitment to ensure all tenants have a safe place to live.
We acknowledge the current limitations in terms of access and contractors, but we expect landlords to carry out essential works outlined above. Where necessary the Council will still take enforcement action if a landlord fails to carry out essential works.
Should my landlord still be cleaning the common parts of buildings that I share with other residents?
In some houses in multiple occupation, the landlord is responsible for cleaning the shared areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, hallways/stairs etc. If these areas are the landlord’s responsibility, then these should continue to be cleaned.
Landlords should ensure cleaners are following government guidance and wearing protective clothing such as disposable gloves and aprons. If residents in the property do not feel comfortable with this at the current time, they should speak to each other and their landlord/agent to see if they can agree on other arrangements. However, it is very important that regular cleaning still takes place.
How can I protect myself in a shared house or flat?
It is good practice to try and reduce social interaction with others, including others who might be sharing your home. Please read the latest government guidance.
If you have been advised to self-isolate, wherever possible, you should separate yourself from other people in your household. In shared flats or houses this can be challenging. You should minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated. Ensure regular cleaning of shared spaces including all surfaces.
If you share a toilet and/or bathroom, it is important that you clean them after you have used them every time. For example you should wipe surfaces you have come in contact with. You could consider drawing up a rota for showering/bathing, with the tenant self-isolating using the facilities last. Then they should thoroughly clean the shower, bath, sink and toilet.
If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it whilst others are present. Take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly, remembering to use a separate tea towel.
You should only use your own toothbrush, and use separate eating and drinking utensils. This includes cups and glasses in the bathroom and bedroom, dishes, drinks, towels, washcloths and bedlinen. You should not share these items with other members of your household. Make sure that you thoroughly clean the area you have used with an anti-bacterial cleaning fluid.
If you have your own garden it is fine to use it as long as you keep 2 meters away from other members of your household and any neighbours. If possible they should use the outside area separately.
I am struggling to pay rent because of coronavirus
Speak to your landlord if you're struggling to pay rent. They could be sympathetic especially if you've lost your job or seen your income reduce suddenly. They might agree to a rent reduction or accept a late payment to your rent. Get any agreement in writing.
Buy to let landlords may get mortgage payment holidays if their tenants have financial problems due to coronavirus.
If you are earning less, worried about paying your rent, mortgage or bills, or have other financial concerns as a result of the coronavirus, please contact the Council. We can discuss what support might be available through our discretionary housing payment and our welfare assistance fund.
Can my landlord evict me straight away as a result of coronavirus?
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without following the proper steps.
Illegal eviction is a criminal offence – coronavirus does not change this.
If you are an assured shorthold tenant, your landlord cannot:
- make you leave without giving you 2 months’ notice
- when notice expires, your landlord must go to court to get a court order
- you still do not have to leave the property after the court order expires
- your landlord will have to return to court to get a bailiff warrant before he can evict you
- you must immediately contact the council if your landlord locks you out of your home, even temporarily.
If you are a lodger, and live in the same house or flat as your landlord, you do not have the same rights. If you have a written agreement, then your landlord should only give you notice as stated in the agreement. If you do not have an agreement, then the landlord only has to give you reasonable notice (usually 2-4 weeks).
What if I have already had notice from my landlord?
Housing possession claims have been suspended from 27 March. Under new legislation, most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three months’ notice. This means that landlords cannot evict their tenants whilst this national emergency is taking place.
I am homeless or threatened with homelessness
Who can I contact if my landlord is telling me to leave now or harassing me?
You can contact the private sector housing team on 0207 974 2543 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or email email@example.com. Or housing advice on 0207 974 5801 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). You can also contact the police on either 999 (if you are being physically threatened) or 101. They should respond to illegal evictions.