This is an uncertain time for many landlords and tenants. On November 2nd the Scottish Government announced a new five tier system of restrictions to try and stem the spread of COVID-19. However, it has been confirmed that the property market will stay open across all tiers and property appraisals, property marketing activities, viewings and house moves can all go ahead. On November 17th it was announced that on Friday November 20th at 6pm eleven local authority areas across central and western Scotland, including Glasgow, will enter Tier 4 restrictions for three weeks.
What is the guidance for landlords, agents and tenants in Tier 4?
Lettings agents and landlords are able to access properties by appointment. All visits must follow guidance as set out by the Scottish Government with face coverings, social distancing, hand washing and additional cleaning. Agents and landlords are required to ask if any member of the household has either been asked by Track and Trace to isolate or are showing any symptoms including a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss of smell/taste. If they are isolating or have symptoms, then the appointment must be delayed for at least two weeks and they are no longer displaying symptoms.
If a potential renter would like to view a property they can do so. However, virtual viewings should be carried out where possible and a physical viewing should only be undertaken if they are seriously interested in letting and they have been pre-vetted. When viewing a property, all parties must wash their hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser as soon as they enter a property. Internal doors or cupboards must be left open, if there are several people in a room at one time, they must be two meters apart and face coverings must be worn at all times.
Tenants are allowed to move into a property during Tier 4 restrictions and are permitted to move from outside their council district for the purposes of moving home.
If you need to carry out repairs on a property this is permitted, and tradespeople are allowed to enter homes for purposes of repair or building/renovation works. Any visits must be carried out by appointment and with measures in place such as social distancing, face coverings, cleaning hand washing. In terms of inspections for gas, electrical and fire safety, these can go ahead as long as a tenant is not shielding, isolating or displaying symptoms.
If your tenant is affected by their ability to pay, make sure you have an open communication with them to try and work out a solution. If they are in financial difficulty, they can claim Universal Credit which includes support for housing costs, and you may qualify for an interest free loan. No tenant should be evicted if they are suffering financial hardship from COVID-19. In addition, landlords can apply for a mortgage break of up to six months. Talk to your lender at the earliest convenience if you are in this position.
What are the Tier 4 restrictions?
- Restrictions on socialising will remain the same as in level 3 areas but with the advice to stay at home as much as possible.
- Non-essential shops and hospitality establishments will be closed without exception.
- Hairdressers and other close contact services will be closed.
- Homeworking is the preferred option for all sectors with the exception of essential work, outdoor work, construction and manufacturing jobs.
- Non-essential travel into or out of level 4 areas is prohibited and public transport should only be used when essential.
- Indoor gyms will be closed and outdoor sports will be restricted to non-contact games.
- Informal childcare is permitted.
- All aspects of selling, buying, letting and renting homes is permitted.