Our Property Management & Accounts Team
As the world adjusts to life working from home again, nothing has changed for our Property Management and Accounts team, who have all been working from home full time since March last year. Has it had its challenges? Absolutely, but we are very proud of each member of the team for their dedication and support to our clients, our colleagues and our company over this last year.
Covid-19 has impacted everybody’s families in some form or another and together as a team we have been able to overcome any hurdles. With some members of staff now forced to home school alongside their work, we have introduced flexi hours for those that need it, offering a workable balance.
Every member of the team is able to offer face to face video meetings via either Teams or Zoom and are fully set up remotely to carry out business as usual. If you would like to have a video call, please let your Property Manager know and they will be happy to set this up for you. Alternatively, we are always only a phone call away and enjoy speaking with our clients now more than ever, given the restrictions of meeting family and friends and the camaraderie of the office environment.
Eviction Ban Update
It is almost a year since the government introduced emergency legislation suspending all evictions taking place and seeing courts close their doors until 20th September 2020. Even with the reopening of the courts, we were advised that it would be highly unlikely that any case would be heard until the first quarter of 2021 due to the four-month backlog.
The government also increased the notice period required upon serving a Section 21 notice to six months. This still stands until the 31st March 2021, yet it remains unclear as to whether this will be extended further.
The introduction of Tier 4 brought further restrictions which impacted the property industry. On the 8th January, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a further extension to the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions for private renters in England. The initial month-long ban over the Christmas period was set to end on the 11th January and has now been extended until the 21st February.
There are some exemptions to the regulations, which include:
- Illegal occupation
- False statement
- Anti-social behaviour
- Where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant
- Extreme rent arrears (equivalent to six months’ rent with any arrears accrued since 23rd March discounted)
Right to Rent Checks
Following Brexit, the Home Office has confirmed that the Right to Rent process will not change from 1st January 2021, because the UK will enter the EU-Exit grace period until 30th June 2021. EEA citizens can continue to use their passport or national identity card to demonstrate their right to rent during this time.
Electrical Safety Standards Testing
The Electrical Safety Standards testing (EICR) legislation for all new and renewed tenancies came in to force on the 1st of July 2020 and is applicable for all existing tenancies as of the 1st April 2021.
This has proved to be a massive challenge for the lettings industry, with limited supply and high demand for contractors and restricted access to properties due to lockdown and tenants isolating making it a difficult task. Our governing body ARLA have petitioned to have the deadline extended and we are hoping that the government will push back the amendment to April 2022, however this has not yet been granted and we must therefore push forward as best we can.
We have now contacted all landlords with regards to booking an Electrical Installation Condition Report. If you already have an EICR, please forward this to your Property Manager. If you do not have an EICR, please let us know if we can assist with organising this for you. See links below.
Following the standards testing, the EICR certificate lasts for five years. Should any faults be identified, a landlord has 28 days to have these works completed. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £30,000.
As with a Gas Safety Certificate or EPC, a copy of the EICR must be provided to all tenants prior to moving into the property. Failure to do so could invalidate a Section 21 being served in the future.
Property Inspections & Inventory Services
Unlike the initial lockdown whereby all property inspections came to a halt, this time the government have allowed us to continue to carry out routine property visits where safe to do so. We are therefore asking tenants to allow access for our inventory clerks whilst the tenant remains outside the property. All of the inventory clerks wear full PPE and contact the tenant(s) 24 hours in advance to ensure the inspection is safe
to go ahead. Some tenants would rather not take the risk and we of course respect their decision, in which case we are rebooking these appointments for a future date.
Check outs are going ahead unaccompanied 24 hours after the keys have been returned to the relevant office. There is no requirement for a tenant to be present which allows us to reduce the risk here for both our clients and employees.
Inventories are going ahead with a strict one tenant rule. The clerk will meet the tenant at the property to run through the health and safety aspects of the property such as smoke alarms. The tenant will then be sent the full report electronically with seven days to review and raise any amendments.
Much like property inspections, where tenants are allowing access, we have the green light to go ahead with essential maintenance. Our contractors will only ever enter your home in full PPE, keeping a safe distance and sanitising frequently. Whilst supplies may be a little slower to obtain than usual, our contractors are doing their very best to carry out works as quickly as possible.