Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic uncertainty has swept the globe and has cause a number of markets and industries to struggle, none more so than the letting industry.
With social distancing rules and the uncertainty of the pandemic sending the UK into lockdown it became difficult for landlords to let out their properties due to restrictions on essential trips and the lack of disposable income people had to rent new property.
That being said, the lockdown in the UK has begun to ease and the lettings market should expect to increase once more in the coming months. With that in mind it is essential to understand how health and safety will change in a post Coronavirus world.
How will health and safety change post COVID-19?
Tenants’ safety should be a landlords’ number one priority and, as such, the government has put in place new protections for tenant’s regarding evictions during the Coronavirus pandemic. These protections state that, until September 30th 2020, most landlords will not be able to start eviction proceedings unless they have given their tenants three months notice.
However, there are other elements of advice and legislation, referring to the health and wellbeing of landlords and tenants’ that should also be followed amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
+ Private landlords and letting agents should not conduct viewings in properties where tenants are self isolating or have had symptoms of COVID-19 in the past few days. This ensures that the virus does not continue to spread and should a viewing occur where it is able to social distancing rules shall apply.
+ Any necessary visits to a property, for repairs, safety checks etc, shall be conducted in accordance with government guidelines on social distancing. These visits should also be done with minimal contact between people from different households in order to protect everyone involved
+ In order to ensure the safety of the tenant, landlords will make every effort to ensure that any gas and electrical equipment is kept safe and functioning. However, this may become difficult if a tenant is self isolating in which case the landlord is exempt from these responsibilities as long as they have taken reasonable steps to comply.
These are just a few of the examples of how rules and legislation has changed in order to ensure the safety of landlords and tenants in the post Coronavirus world and there are likely to be more alterations, making it essential that you keep up to date on the latest industry new regarding health and safety.
How will health and safety change in commercial real estate?
In regards to commercial real estate, it is a slightly different story. Under the Health and Welfare at work act 2005 it is the responsibility of both landlords and tenants to ensure that commercial properties being used as workplaces are kept up to standard and ensure that there is no risk to employees or customers. For a landlord this may involves restricting public access, sanitizing the premises and evacuating if necessary.
However, that being said, it is essential to review the lease agreement with a tenant in order to ascertain whose obligation it is to clean and sanitise a premises and an informal agreement may be a preferred solution if there is no clear answer.
Overall it’s no secret that health and safety will change and landlords will have to ensure that they are making it easy for tenants and themselves to comply with government legislation whether that involves sanitisation and social distancing or the letting and showing of property.
Peter Watson is a director and health and safety consultant at Watson & Watson Health & Safety.