Private Renters Q&A

Our Private Sector Housing Team is continuing to support Welwyn Hatfield residents who have concerns about their accommodation during the coronavirus outbreak, but the team has had to make some changes to the way they work.

This is an update on how we are dealing with enquiries in the current situation, what you should expect from your landlord or managing agent and HMO’s. All information offered is in line with the Government’s guidance to landlords and tenants.  

Nobody can be forced to leave their home because of coronavirus. If someone you share your house with has the virus, your landlord is not obliged to remove them or find you somewhere else to stay.

If you are concerned about a situation, please email us, with your contact details, at housingandcommunity@welhat.gov.uk.

Complaints and Enquiries

Our priority remains imminent or high-risk situations which could cause a hazard to tenants. This includes fire risk due to lack of or non-working fire precautions, dangerous electric and gas installations, lack of hot water and heating, burst pipes or severe water damage.

Where possible, we will liaise with you and your landlords through email, phone, photos and video, only making visits to properties where we consider it absolutely necessary.

Evictions

We will be responding to situations relating to the illegal eviction or harassment of tenants. From 27 March the government suspended all evictions for three months for most tenants and secure licensees in the private rented sector. At the end of the three months, your landlord cannot get you to leave your home without a court order.

You should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of your tenancy agreement to the best of your ability. If you are not able to pay your rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible to try and agree a payment plan. If you are already in rent arrears you should contact your landlord to see if you can reach an agreeable solution.

The government has introduced a package of financial support available to tenants. Information about financial assistance that may be available to you at this time can be found at www.welhat.gov.uk/coronavirus/financial-help

What you should expect from your Landlord or managing agent?

While they have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure your property is legally compliant i.e. safe and reasonably maintained, they also have a duty to protect themselves, their staff, contractors and you.

Each situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis. You should inform your landlord as soon as possible of any issues with the condition of your property.

Where reasonable, safe for you and in line with government guidance, we recommend you allow landlords or contractors access to your property in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues. This includes fire risk due to lack of or non-working fire precautions, dangerous electric and gas installations, lack of hot water and heating and burst pipes or severe water damage.

Follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when contractors or others are visiting your property in these circumstances. We strongly advise you take additional measures such as remaining in a separate room during any visits and following government advice on hygiene before, during and after visits. You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs.

The government has put out the following guidance about tradespeople carrying out work in people’s homes (25 March 2020).

What if I live in an HMO (shared house)?

HMO managers have a legal duty to maintain the shared parts of the property, ensuring that these and any fixtures, fittings or appliances are maintained in good and safe repair and in clean working order. 

This can be done in accordance with the guidance on physical distancing, isolation and shielding and we would encourage you to make arrangements with your manager to support them with this. This also applies to the testing and maintenance of fire safety precautions (including fire doors) and we expect that these basic safety checks are continued and recorded.

Follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when contractors or others are visiting your property. We strongly advise you take additional measures such as remaining in a separate room during any visits and following government advice on hygiene before, during and after visits. You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs and safety inspections.

Your health and welfare

It is important to look after yourselves and each other during these uncertain times.

The government and NHS websites have advice on hygiene, physical distancing and self-isolation.

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

There is also guidance on:

Cleaning your home to minimise the risk of infection

www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

What to do if you are in a shared home with someone who may have the virus https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Shelter also have useful information and advice

https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus

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