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. 

Find the latest information on the UK coronavirus situation on the gov.uk website.

Visit the NHS coronavirus web page for information on: 

  • symptoms
  • 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 live with a vulnerable person or someone who might have coronavirus please refer to this 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.

Follow NHS advice on how to stop germs spreading.

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.

Shelter and Citizens’ Advice also have good advice on their websites about how to deal with rent arrears and claiming benefits.

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.

Get more information on protection from eviction during this national emergency on the gov.uk website and from the housing charity Shelter’s website.

I am homeless or threatened with homelessness 

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness during this period we have provided some information and advice.

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 hmolicensing@camden.gov.uk. 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.

Additional advice is available from these organisations:

Camden Federation of Private Tenants
Shelter
Citizens Advice
Generation Rent
London Renters Union
COVID-19 and renting: Government guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

Coronavirus (COVID-19): information and guidance for landlords

The private sector housing team recognise and appreciate the uncertainty you may be experiencing during this time. You will be aware the situation is changing daily and we will continue to refer to guidance from the Government.

Find the latest information on the UK coronavirus situation on the gov.uk website.

For information on symptoms, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you think you might have coronavirus, visit the NHS coronavirus web page.

We have reviewed some of our procedures in light of official government guidance. We have also produced some frequently asked questions to help answer your concerns:

Do I still need to apply for an HMO licence?

Yes. It is important to still apply for an HMO licence as it remains a criminal offence not to and could lead to an unlimited fine upon conviction or the issuing of a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000. In addition, tenants can apply for a rent repayment order (RRO). To apply for a licence, and find out more details about HMO licensing, including RROs, please visit camden.gov.uk/hmolicensing.

Can I apply for a temporary exemption notice (TEN)?

A TEN is only issued for a short period (three months) when a property is actively being taken out of being licensable e.g. it is on the market to be sold or the owner is moving back in. 

Will an officer still want to inspect my property?

During this time inspections will not be taking place. We will instead issue licences based on the information provided with the application. If needed, we will contact you for further information by phone or email. We may also contact your tenants. A future compliance inspection will be carried out to all properties with a licence issued in this manner, when information will be checked and works required on the licence should have been completed. If the inspection finds that the property or the way the property is occupied differs to the information supplied, the licence may have to be varied. This may include an alteration to the permitted number once we have undertaken a measurement of room sizes

The schedule of work which forms parts of the HMO licence is based on the Council’s HMO standards which you should read and familiarise yourself with.

Do I still need to carry out works to my property?

Landlords or their agents should still be accessible to tenants by telephone or email.
Essential works will still need to be addressed as these might seriously affect the health and safety of your tenants. These include remedying problems with water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage, heating and hot water, pest control, leaks and works to windows and doors that may affect security. If tenants are self-isolating, please see advice below.

Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople are expected to follow advice on social distancing (also known as physical distancing).

The Council is continuing to provide a complaint response service to tenants during this period as part of our commitment to ensure all tenants have a safe place to live. Where necessary the Council will still take enforcement action if a landlord fails to carry out essential works.

How can I make sure the contractors I use are following official government guidance?

Each company offering services will have to carry out its’ own risk assessment in terms of protecting the health and safety of their employees and any members of the public. 

You should ask to see the risk assessment when you choose a contractor. It is important the risk assessment is up to date with information about how the contractor will protect their employees and residents and help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Is there any flexibility on HMO licence deadlines?

If you are experiencing difficulties as a result of coronavirus, please contact us as soon as possible. We will look at each licence on a case by case basis .Please document any communication with your tenants and contractors so we can assess the situation fully.

There may be circumstances where we will consider other means of reducing the risk of a hazard in the property on a temporary basis. You should seek advice from the officer who issued the licence before carrying out any alternative works.

Should I still make sure the common parts of my HMOs are clean?

In some houses in multiple occupation (including houses converted to self-contained flats), 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. 

You should ensure your cleaners or the company you use has carried out an up to date health and safety risk assessment. It would be sensible to treat all areas as potentially having been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case, and so protective clothing such as disposable gloves and apron should be worn. Hands should be washed with soap and water after all protective clothing has been removed. Where a higher level of contamination may have been present (for example, where unwell individuals have slept) additional protective equipment such as a surgical face mask and full-face visor should be considered.

Follow NHS advice on how to stop germs spreading.

In some cases, tenants may not feel comfortable with cleaners coming into the property. In such cases you should speak to all the residents to see if you can agree on alternative arrangements, at the same time ensuring that cleaning does take place in accordance with government and NHS guidance.

What do I do if my tenant is self-isolating?

Any tenants self-isolating are advised to avoid any visitors, and in these circumstances we advise you to keep a dialogue going with your tenant. 

However, essential works will still need to be addressed as these might seriously affect the health and safety of your tenants. These include remedying problems with water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage, heating and hot water, pest control, leaks and works to windows and doors that may affect security.

In these circumstances you and your contractors must take the precautions needed (i.e. full protective clothing) to keep everyone safe. Please follow the official government guidance around social distancing. 

What if the tenant is older or vulnerable?

If your tenant is 70 or older, under 70 with an underlying health condition, or pregnant they are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus and will be following strict social distancing measures. Only essential works should be carried out, for example remedying problems with water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage, heating and hot water, pest control, leaks and works to windows and doors that may affect security. In these circumstances please follow the official government guidance around social distancing.

In order to reduce social contact, inspections and non-essential repairs and maintenance should not be taking place during this period.

What can I do if my tenant is not paying their rent?

The government has brought in emergency legislation which essentially suspends evictions from private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place. 

We urge all landlords to work with their tenants to reach an agreement in terms of paying rent if they are experiencing difficulty because of the coronavirus. The Council is providing support for tenants to ensure they do not suffer from evictions nor harassment during these difficult times. A separate FAQ has been provided for tenants in terms of accessing support and advice - and who to complain to if they have problems.

The Council takes this matter most seriously and it should be noted that any person(s) convicted of illegal eviction or harassment may be liable for up to 2 years imprisonment. 

Get more information on the protection for tenants on the gov.uk website and on this landlord news page.

How can I afford to pay for the licence fee or the works if I am not receiving any rent?

The government has announced financial support for businesses. The Council website has further information on financial support available.  You can get information on this financial support from the gov.uk website

The government has also extended the three month mortgage payment holiday to ‘buy to let’ mortgages.

What about my appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (FTT)?

Any landlords with existing appeals to the FTT should have been contacted directly by the tribunal. However, the following advice was issued on 19 March 2020:
(1)    All listed hearing dates and mediations for cases proceeding in the London Region of the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Residential Property are hereby postponed until after 29 May 2020.  
(2)    Where parties can continue to comply with existing directions in current cases, they should seek to do so and co-operate with each other for this purpose.  Save to that extent, all current directions on existing cases are suspended until after 29 May 2020.  Thereafter, the tribunal will aim to issue fresh directions, unless circumstances prevent this happening.

Additional advice is available from these organisations:

NHS UK
GOV.UK
Guidance for social distancing and for vulnerable people
National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA)
Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy 
COVID-19 and renting: Government guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities